Baker weighs extending closures; virus deaths rise by 137

Baker weighs extending closures; virus deaths rise by 137

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he's talking to health care professionals as he weighs whether to extend the state of emergency beyond May 4 to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

"Obviously we know it's something on people's minds. It's on ours too," Baker said at a press conference Thursday. "We're going to do what we can to give people guidance so they have enough time to plan."

Whether to reopen schools is also part of part of that discussion, according to Baker, who said a decision about schools will be made "sometime soon." The state of emergency also shuttered nonessential businesses.

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The state has seen an increase in the number of people hospitalized in recent days, Baker said, adding that about half of hospital beds remain empty. He said the state should see a peak in cases later this month.

Baker urged residents to respond if they receive a call from the state’s contact tracing program advising them they may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The number COVID-19-related deaths in Massachusetts rose to 1,245 Thursday - an increase of 137 in the past day - according to public health officials.

There were more than 2,200 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of nearly 32,200 since the start of the outbreak.

Nearly half of the deaths, 610, were reported in long-term care facilities.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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