BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday urged residents to refrain from gathering with extended family and friends at Thanksgiving, saying casual indoor gatherings are helping fuel the new surge in cases in Massachusetts.
Holiday dinners and festivities should be limited to members of a person’s immediate household, Baker said at a news conference, adding that the state has limited private indoor gatherings to 10 people.
“If we treat this year just like we treat every other Thanksgiving, it’s quite likely that it will trigger a significant spread,” he said.
Baker acknowledged that the choice to avoid large family gatherings is difficult for many but that the state continues to see more spread of the virus. He said cases have increased by eight times since Labor Day, while there have been four times as many hospitalizations in the same period.
“This second surge is dangerous for all of us,” he said.
Recent developments regarding potential vaccines are welcome news, he said, but that’s no reason for people to let their guard down.
“At this point, folks should be going to school or to work, and going home,” Baker said, referencing his stay-at-home advisory.
Any college students hoping to go home for the holiday should also be tested at least 72 hours before leaving campus to help reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to their families, Baker said.
Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders noted that anyone returning home to Massachusetts from a high risk state after the holidays needs to fill out the travel form and quarantine for two weeks or get a negative test result.
While the number of daily confirmed cases is nearing the numbers in the first wave of the disease in the spring, the number of deaths has been lower, according to Baker.
That’s in part because testing was more limited in the spring, he said. Many people who were likely infected but were showing mild or no symptoms were never tested, he said, meaning the disease was likely much more widespread than the number of confirmed positive cases reflected.
Testing is much more widespread now.
The state is also planning to issue an alert to 4.5 million phones in Massachusetts on Thursday to urge residents to remain vigilant against the virus during the holiday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)