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Baker: Surge Could Come April 20; Flow Of Cases May Require State To Tweak Plans

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The surge in expected COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in Massachusetts may arrive closer to the end of the 10-day window from now through April 20, and the state is officially advising all residents to wear a mask or face covering when they leave their homes, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday.

The governor said data from recent days show that the surge could arrive closer to April 20 and that, at its peak, the virus will likely result in 2,500 new cases each day. On Thursday, Massachusetts reported 2,151 new cases.

"If we do not see a flattening in the daily cases and in new hospitalizations, we may need to make some adjustments in our planning, and we will," Baker said.

He said the state Department of Public Health on Friday will issue an advisory recommending that people wear a mask or face covering when not in their homes or when social distancing is not possible. He said people should especially wear masks at grocery stores and pharmacies.

"This protects you from others and protects others from you," Baker said. "It works both ways."

Since federal officials advised last week that people wear masks in public, Baker has not publicly donned a mask as Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has. The governor previously called the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance "perfectly appropriate."

The Boston area drew attention Friday at the White House coronavirus briefing.

"We still see cases occurring in the Boston area and in Chicago, but their rate of increase seems to be stabilizing," White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said.

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