A week after closing all non-essential businesses to workers and customers, Gov. Charlie Baker said he was extending his executive order beyond April 7 to keep most businesses physically closed through at least May 4.
Baker on Tuesday afternoon said his order would also keep in place the social distancing guidance from the state limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.
He said the state was considering taking steps to prevent people from gathering in parks and other public spaces, but urged people to follow the direction on their own.
Baker said continuing social distancing measures is necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the state prepares for a surge in patients needing hospitalization that is projected to hit Massachusetts between April 7 and April 17.
To meet that need, the state will be turning the DCU Center in Worcester into a 250-bed medical facility to treat patients with lower acuity of symptoms. Baker said it is one of three field medical stations for which the state has requested approval from the federal government through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Three tractor trailers with the supplies necessary to set up the DCU Center beds will arrive in Worcester tomorrow, and UMass Medical Center will oversee the day-to-day operations of the field hospital.
Baker also said the number of veterans who have recently died at the Holyoke Soldiers' Homehas climbed to 13, six of whom tested positive for COVID-19. He pledged to "figure out what happened" at the home. A command center is being set up at the site, public health experts have been dispatched to conduct a review and more personal protective equipment (PPE) is being sent to the facility, Baker added.
“This episode is a gut-wrenching loss,” he said. “This is nothing short of devastating to all of us.”
This is a developing story.