Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday spoke about the importance of not gathering with people outside of your household this holiday season, and spoke about the uptick in infections and hospitalizations that followed the Thanksgiving holiday.
Baker said that as of Monday, the state saw 3,572 new cases of COVID-19, and 1,788 people were hospitalized. Of those in the hospital, 354 were in the ICU.
He said that on December 1, the seven day average was about 2,444 new cases per day, but eight days later, about 13 days after Thanksgiving, that number almost doubled to around 4800 cases per day. He said that was a 96 percent increase in “a little over a week.”
There has also been a “significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past three weeks,” Baker said, which are up by 93 percent. Patients in the ICU have increased by 73 percent, and intubated patients have increased by 104 percent, he said/ Since Thanksgiving, deaths have increased by 84 percent and 689 people have died statewide due to the virus since Thanksgiving.
He said since many people have “light or no symptoms at all,” it is very easy to spread the virus to someone who might not be as lucky.
“It’s not a secret that we’re in a second surge here in Massachusetts,” Baker said, and encouraged people to continue wearing masks, distancing, an avoiding people outside of your household while the state waits for the vaccine to be made more widely available.
He said the he doesn’t “think we should kid ourselves about the holidays in December,” as “we really can’t have them be the kind of consequential event that Thanksgiving has been here in Massachusetts. We really do need the help of everybody to make sure that we don’t have a repeat so our hospital system can continue to provide the critical medial care that it does so well for those who need it.”
He said the holidays really have to look different this year, and the Department of Public Health has released guidelines for safely celebrating the holidays, which can be found at mass.gov/holidays-during-covid-19-in-massachusetts. Baker said the “safest way to celebrate this year is with members of your own household.”
He added, “I can’t emphasize enough that this is not forever.” He said that hopefully next year the holidays an be celebrated as normal, but this “one time, one month, one year” has to be different.
Baker also announced that on Monday, Massachusetts hospitals received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 6,000 doses have been distributed to hospitals so far, with more to come soon totaling the 300,000 expected by the end of the year.
The first Massachusetts resident to receive a vaccination was 96-year-old WWII veteran Margaret Klessens as part of the VA Bedford healthcare system. She was also the first VA patient in the country to receive the vaccine.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine-in-massachusetts.