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LISTEN LIVE: All Things Considered

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Baker Urges Mass. Residents To Alter Or Cancel Holiday Plans To Increase Safety Amid Pandemic

Gov. Charlie Baker stands next to a sign reading "Stop the Spread Testing Locations" as he speaks during a press conference in the Gardner Auditorium in the State House in Boston on Dec. 7. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Gov. Charlie Baker stands next to a sign reading "Stop the Spread Testing Locations" as he speaks during a press conference in the Gardner Auditorium in the State House in Boston on Dec. 7. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The coronavirus that has killed more than 11,000 people in Massachusetts this year thrived as people gathered against state and medical recommendations for Thanksgiving, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday as he urged people to take COVID-19 safety precautions more seriously during the December holiday season.

The Department of Public Health will issue new guidance later Tuesday to offer tips on how to safely celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's in the midst of a global pandemic.

"It's pretty simple," Baker said of the new DPH guidance. "The safest way to celebrate this year is with members of your own household and to postpone or cancel any travel plans and to avoid gatherings with people you don't live with. Any type of celebration beyond that has real potential, as we saw with Thanksgiving, to spread the virus and hurt the ones we love the most."

Baker made a similar plea to the public ahead of Thanksgiving, but based on his comments Tuesday and the data he presented, it appears that not enough people heeded the governor's warnings last month. He said he hopes more people will alter their traditional holiday plans because "we just saw that movie" and are now seeing the impacts it had.

On Dec. 1, four days after Thanksgiving, the state was averaging about 2,400 new COVID-19 cases each day. A week later, about 10 days after Thanksgiving, the average number of daily new cases had nearly doubled to almost 4,800, Baker said.

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