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Gov. Charlie Baker Says Mass. Is Still In Surge; Boston To Test Homeless Population

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Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that while the state continues to battle the coronavirus, it still hasn't reached the other side of the surge.

That means steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 — from shuttering nonessential businesses to social distancing — will remain in place.

"Until we start to see some of that kind of information about the peaking of the surge and the move in the other direction for some sustained period of time, we're not going to be interested in reopening anything," Baker said.

Baker said there has been some discussion about how the state might safely reopen the economy, but again emphasized the state is not at that point.

Health officials are keeping an eye on the number of people tested and what percentage have tested positive. The percentage of positive tests compared to all tests has fluctuated in the 20s, Baker said. On Thursday about 21% of those tests came back positive.

Baker, a Republican, also cautioned that the state has been focusing a good portion of its testing on locations believed to have high number of people who have contracted COVID-19, including nursing homes, which could in part account for the high number of positive tests.

Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday that he has been talking to Baker about extending the state's stay-at-home advisory beyond May 4.

"There's been no decision on that, but I'm expecting that will probably happen," Walsh said.

Walsh said Friday that the city has secured more than 1,000 additional coronavirus tests needed to test the city's homeless population.

Earlier tests indicated that as many as a third of the homeless people in Massachusetts' largest city have the virus, with many people not showing symptoms.

Walsh said the tests will let public health officials test all those in the city's shelter system over the next two weeks.

"This is a big step forward in protecting our most vulnerable populations," Walsh said in a press release. "Universal testing in Boston's homeless community is critical to allow us to provide individuals the targeted care they need."

As of Thursday, 1,340 individuals have been tested, and 453 homeless individuals who have been tested are positive, or 34%.

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