BOSTON — For MA Gov. Charlie Baker Wednesday, it was lather, rinse, repeat:
“We just got it and we’re reviewing it and we’ll have more to say about it later.”
“We just got the guidance.”
“We’re taking a look at it, and we’ll get back to you later.”
Those were Baker’s answers to questions about the CDC’s guidance issued Tuesday recommending vaccinated and unvaccinated K-12 students, teachers and staff wear masks indoors at school this fall and that, vaccinated or not, Americans in highly infectious zones wear masks in public indoor spaces.
“They have 50 states they need to consider when they make these decisions,” Baker said. “Talk to some of the experts in our community and I would argue that there are many different opinions in Massachusetts among the experts about what are the right things to do.”
The right things to do for Massachusetts, that is; a state that has things under better control than many others, Baker said.
“We have one of the lowest spreads of any state in the country if you measure cases per 100,000 population,” he said. “And we have the second-highest vaccination rate when it comes to COVID vaccinations.”
While those metrics are impressive, Massachusetts, like every other state, is dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks associated with the Delta variant; and cases are skyrocketing. In little more than a month, the seven-day average of positive cases has grown more than five-fold.
While most cases have been among the unvaccinated, a growing number of infections are occurring in those who are vaccinated. And the CDC is concerned the latter group may be unaware of their potential to spread the disease, though some researchers think the transmission potential is far lower if vaccinated.
When the governor makes a decision on masks, he made it clear it will only be after multiple consultations.
“People tend to find the expert they agree with and that’s the one they listen to,” Baker said. “I like to listen to all of them. And many of them, in many cases, have not just slightly different points of view, but contrary points of view.”
That may take some time, but it sounded as though the governor planned to take it.
“We’ll have something to say, but we’re going to process this,” he said. “This is a big decision.”
Marty Martinez, the chief of Boston Health and Human Services, said everything is on the table, including mask mandates and if the city should require city workers to be vaccinated. An update on guidelines in Boston is expected tomorrow.
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