The state Department of Public Health reported 35 new deaths Friday due to COVID-19, bringing the confirmed statewide death toll to 7,097. State officials also reported 420 new confirmed cases, bringing that total to 98,796. There were 9,760 new molecular tests reported, raising that total to 631,008. Sunday was the first day that the DPH began including probable deaths and cases stretching back to March 1 in its report, as well as numbers for antibody testing in Massachusetts. (See our charts and map for a more detailed breakdown.)
Gov. Baker says as health metrics are trending in the right direction, retail shops could reopen by Monday. It would be phase two of the state’s reopening plan. Retailers are already making preparations for in-store shopping, which will have restrictions. Stores have to limit their capacity to 40%. There will be barriers at checkout. Customers and staff will be required to wear masks. And some things won’t be available. For example, dressing rooms will be closed.
State officials are also detailing the rules for indoor and outdoor sports leagues, which fall under phase two of the plan as well. Adult and youth outdoor sports practices are allowed, but no games or matches with other teams. Contact sports can only conduct non-contact drills.
So far, it appears that phase one has gone well. The positive test rate for new coronavirus cases and other indicators of recovery continue to trend down. But health experts caution that it may still be too soon to know if the state is ready to lift more restrictions safely.
A group of health care, union and community leaders wants more testing and protections for low income workers and minority communities before the reopening. The Massachusetts Public Health Coalition yesterday wrote a letter to the Baker administration demanding that at-risk workers’ needs were met.
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh says the city has been meeting initial benchmarks for moving ahead with reopening the city. Warning that the virus has not gone away, the Mayor cautioned yesterday that businesses should ramp up gradually and cautiously. He says the city has fielded about 275 applications from restaurants wanting to offer outdoor dining. Still, he acknowledges restarting the economy will take some time.
A superior court judge today hears a lawsuit accusing the state Department of Children and Families of imposing excessive restrictions on visitations with children in foster care during the pandemic. A group of parents filed the suit, claiming the ban on in-person visits for biological parents is unconstitutional and traumatizing. State officials are not commenting on the suit but say they’re working on restarting in-person visits.