BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — According to Gov. Charlie Baker, if the Commonwealth's rate of positive COVID-19 tests continues to rise, he will adjust the state's rules on social gatherings during the pandemic.
Despite months of declines for several important COVID-related health metics, Gov. Baker said Friday there has been a "slight increase" in the state's positive test rate and average number of daily of cases.
Baker said that increase has been partially linked to "disturbing reports" of large private gatherings, where people are not wearing face coverings or socially distancing.
"Unfortunately, these gatherings are resulting in new COVID-case clusters, and ramping up the spread of the virus," said Baker. "As I said before, our daily data report has been showing a slight increase in COVID cases. These lapses in judgements ... are contributing to a slight but important rise in positive cases in Massachusetts."
Baker said the state Department of Public Health is now investigating several "cluster incidents," including a large lifeguard party in Falmouth, a house party in Chatham, an unauthorized football camp in South Weymouth, a high school graduation party in Chelmsford, and a large house party in Wrentham.
The state is also investigating a 90-person prom party in Cohasset as a "possible cluster." Baker said workers at Bay State Health Systems who got "lax" about facial coverings in break rooms are now dealing with dozens of cases of COVID-19.
"There was also a party on a private boat in Boston Harbor that's also currently under investigation as a cluster by the Department of Public Health," Baker said.
Although a significant portion of the population who get the virus will not show symptoms, Baker said they "can and often do" pass the virus on to others who may be older or immunocompromised, who in some cases will die.
"COVID does not follow any rules. We should not, and cannot let our guard down until there is a treatment or vaccine," said Baker. "Look no further than other states that have seen dramatic increases in new cases, with uncontrolled outbreaks. We do not want to see that happen here."
Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said the gatherings are a "contributing factor" to the increase in the state's daily number of cases and the positive test rate.
"We've seen a number of clusters over the past few weeks emerge that need to be investigated," said Sudders. "If I use the ... unauthorized football camp [as an example,] that involves 17 communities where there are kids. So imagine if there are multiple folks who then test positive, and then the potential of the spread ... of the disease."
In an effort to continue to remind residents to wear masks and face-coverings in public, the Baker Administration also announced the launch of a new campaign entitled #MaskUpMA, which included a special video message from Red Sox Mascot Wally the Green Monster.
(Photo: Gov. Baker/Flickr)