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Regional News

Mass. Gov. Baker Lauds Springfield's Progress Slowing Spread Of COVID-19

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Sam Doran
/
State House News Service
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Communities across Massachusetts have made "excellent progress" slowing the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday, praising Springfield’s approach in particular.

Springfield has been able to go from a so-called “moderate risk” community to one at “low risk” for the coronavirus, Baker said.

He pointed to some steps city officials have taken to flatten the curve.

“Dom Sarno, who’s the mayor in Springfield, has been incredibly aggressive about messaging, and communicating, and encouraging people to do the things that work,” Baker said.

Baker also gave an example of what Sarno has done when people aren’t following the rules.

“He closed down a few parks, where he felt people just weren’t taking seriously the issues associated with distancing,” Baker said. “And didn’t open them back up until he got commitments from the neighborhood that people were going to be serious about this.”

Baker said 190 communities, or 54% of those in the state, have recorded five or fewer COVID-19 cases since mid-August, a clear sign of progress.

Another 46 communities have fewer than four cases per 100,000 residents, Baker said, while 47 more have controlled the virus enough to push themselves down a risk category in the administration's color-coded assessment.

State officials ramped up on-the-ground support in Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn and Revere over the weekend, targeting those five communities because of “dangerously high levels of transmission there,” Baker said.

“We launched a new set of tools through the COVID-19 Enforcement and Intervention Team to increase enforcement, education and public health resources and awareness in these communities, and this included multilingual education campaigns,” he said. “We all have the same goal, which is to keep COVID out of these communities and do everything we can to help keep people safe.”

Last week, the state Division of Professional Licensure made 92 inspections of businesses in those five communities, and found 47 violations of COVID-19 risk mitigation practices, Baker said.

The administration will continue efforts to increase testing and enforcement in cities and towns where infection rates remain high.

Adam Frenier contributed to this report, which includes information from State House News Service.

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