Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday declared a state of emergency joining neighboring states Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island as the region continues to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“We all must consider how our actions and choices can help mitigate the spread of this virus,” he said.
Baker announced recommended restrictions on the majority of state employees – limiting travel and group meetings.
“The commonwealth is one of the largest employers and so we have a significant role to play in mitigating the spread of this virus,” he said.
All work-related travel for state employees – both foreign and domestic – is to be discontinued until further notice. Additionally, state employees are discouraged from personal international travel. Conferences and and seminars involving external parties are recommended to be be held digitally or canceled.
Baker also limited large events and encouraged work from home wherever possible.
Regular public meetings and board meets will continued as planned, Baker said.
The restrictions on state employees apply to offices within the executive branch. The decision to close non-executive offices — such as the court system, legislative branch, and state university system — is made by their respective leadership.
Beyond public employees, he encouraged all employers and large organizations to follow suit where appropriate and all employees across the state who feel sick to stay home.
Baker encouraged older adults, who are most at risk of contracting the virus, to avoid large crowds if possible, including riding the MBTA and sporting events.
Those in the highest risk groups should confer with their employer about the potential of working from home.
The measures will be revisited in 30 days or sooner, Baker said.
“We expect the spread of this virus will be disruptive, we expect this disruption to continue for the foreseeable future and understand it will cause inconvenience for many, Baker said. “But our goal needs to significantly increase efforts to mitigate the spread of this disease now.”
Regarding the Boston Marathon, Baker said officials continue to discuss the annual event on Patriot’s Day, but it remains a month away and will remain under consideration until it is closer.
Concerns pertaining to coronavirus have already forced Boston and Holyoke to cancel their St. Patrick’s’ parades, New Bedford to cancel its half marathon and colleges and universities to implement online classes.
The governor’s office does not close schools. That decision lies with the school districts.
However, he did announce relief from attendance and school year requirements, allowing for schools to be closed at a local level, if needed.
Every neighboring state of Massachusetts has announced cases of coronavirus. New York has seen the highest number of cases in the Northeast, 148 cases with no fatalities.
The number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts jumped Tuesday, more than doubling from Monday’s figures.
The number of presumptive cases spiked to 91, with one confirmed. Of the total number 70 are related to Biogen’s conference in Boston, four are connected to travel and the cause of exposure remains under investigation for 18.
New Hampshire announced its fifth presumptive case on Tuesday. Three cases have been announced in Rhode Island, two in Connecticut and one in Vermont.
Declaring a state of emergency gives the governor and state officials more authority in dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19, such as quickly buying supplies or hiring new personnel without dealing with normal governmental procedure. The governor can also deploy the National Guard if needed to deal with the state’s response to the virus.
State law also allows a governor to work with other states if needed to better protect the commonwealth as well as the nation after the declaration of a state of emergency. Connecticut declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. Rhode Island declared on Monday and New York on Saturday.
In the past decade, most state of the emergencies declared by governors of Massachusetts have been due to weather-related events such as blizzards, tornadoes or coastal storms.
However, in 2018, Baker declared a state of emergency following the gas explosions in Merrimack Valley.
© 2020 MassLive.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.