It's tough, but it needs to be done, Gov. Baker said of extending the non-essential ban to May 4 in his daily press briefing today.
Baker said that starting tomorrow, the state will begin construction of a 250-bed field hospital inside the DCU Center in Worcester, for patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, but who no longer need more intense care. UMass Medical Center will run the temporary hospital, he said, adding the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is looking for sites for two more such hospitals.
Baker said that effective immediately, hotels and short-term-rental units can remain open only for health-care workers and people who work at other "essential" businesses, the list of which has been expanded to include optometrists and chiropractors.
Baker said 13 veterans are now dead at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. "This episode is a gut-wrenching loss that is nothing less than devastating for all of us," he said. The state has rushed medical workers, the National Guard and equipment there there to stabilize and support patients and families, he said, adding that once that is done, "we will get to the bottom of what happened."
All residents and staff will be tested for Covid-19, by a new mobile testing unit, run by the National Guard and the state Department of Public Health, aimed at nursing homes. After the unit is finished in Holyoke, it will travel the state, offering testing at nursing homes so residents no longer have to go to a hospital.
Baker emphasized that people need to stay home to help flatten the curve, now more than ever, as we enter "perhaps the most difficult period associated with this virus" over the next couple of weeks.
"Don't play basketball just because you can," he said. "Don't sit on the beach with your friends all day."