Despite fewer COVID-19 cases, Baker warns it’s too early to draw conclusions

Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday the state was not ready to start talking about reopening parts of its economy. On salons and barber shops, Baker said that “we’re not going to do that until we get over the hump of the surge, period.” [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]
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BOSTON – Despite five straight days of declining new confirmed cases of COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that the data was insufficient to draw any conclusions about the trajectory of the spread of the coronavirus throughout the state.

The Department of Public Health reported 1,556 new cases of the disease on Tuesday, a decrease of just 10 cases from the day before.

The White House has urged states to consider reopening parts of the economy after witnessing 14 days of declining caseloads.

“We think it’s too soon to draw a conclusion from that data,” Baker said.

Hospitalization rates are the “piece of data we watch most closely,” he said, and DPH reported a “modest” increase of 80 new patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Baker, who described Massachusetts as “now a national hotspot for COVID-19 infections,” said part of the reason he doesn’t want to read into the decline in new cases is because he said the data depends entirely on who gets tested.

To increase testing, Baker said Quest Diagnostics and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers were forming a partnership to ramp up testing in densely populated areas of high need.

Quest plans to send 2,200 tests per day to 12 community health centers with the capacity to increase testing, including centers in Quincy, Brockton, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, Worcester Provincetown and multiple sites in Boston.