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Baystate Health CEO calls for mask mandate as COVID-19 cases rise

Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack.
Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack in a file photo.

With COVID-19 cases surging, there has been much debate over whether there should be a reinstated statewide mask mandate in Massachusetts.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced this week that his administration "has no plans" to bring back the mandate.

The president and CEO of Baystate Health, Dr. Mark Keroack, said wearing a mask in a grocery store is not a lot to ask.

"My own feeling is that even if you can increase mask wearing a little bit by having a mandate, it's probably a good idea," Keroack said. "So I would love to see the governor change his mind and do a mask mandate. And as many of the leaders of the towns and municipalities take the plunge as well."

Keroack said Baystate is also considering rationing care due to a shortage of nurses, and its hospitals running over patient capacity.

“There's a state document about how one ought to go about doing that kind of rationing,” Keroack said. “It involves having a sort of independent senior group assess the relative merits of having a technology given to one person versus another, based on a whole number of different factors.”

Keroack said Baystate has not yet made that call, but he wants people to be ready because he said rationing is not far off.

He added that getting vaccinated is key to curbing the surge, as well as wearing masks in public spaces.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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