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Baker 'Not Considering' New Mask Guidance

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Sam Doran
/
State House News Service
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Despite the entirety of Massachusetts now experiencing "high" or "substantial" transmission of COVID-19, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday he had no plans to revisit his administration's latest guidance for wearing masks indoors or in schools.

Baker was in Peabody on Monday morning with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and several members of his Cabinet to announce $10 million in skills capital grants for educational institutions building programs to train high school students and adult for careers in advanced manufacturing, nursing and other fields.

"I'm not considering changing the mask guidance at this time," Baker said in response to a question about his recommendations for the use of masks even for people vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, all 14 counties in Massachusetts became territory where the Centers for Disease Control defines COVID-19 spread as high or substantial, which triggers a recommendation from the federal agency that all people wear masks in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status.

Baker has advised masks indoors only for those at higher risk from COVID-19 or who live with an adult that is unvaccinated or at a higher risk from the virus. The governor said his administration continues to pay close attention to case counts, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, but believes Massachusetts is in a different category that other states because of its higher vaccination rate.

"You can't look at the commonwealth of Massachusetts and look at our vaccination rate, our hospitalization rate and compare it to the rest of the country," Baker said.

Baker also defended his approach to the reopening of schools next month, describing his administration's "very strong recommendation" that younger students in grades K-6 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine and older students and adults who are not vaccinated wear masks indoors. He said "hundreds" of vaccination clinics will be held in coordination with schools between now and the beginning of the new academic year to increase the vaccination rates among students 12 and older, but he said local school departments are best equipped to make decisions about mask mandates in their districts.