At a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker said officials are "cautiously optimistic" that social distancing measures are working and that there may not be as steep an acceleration in coronavirus cases like the ones seen in New York and Wuhan, China.

He said the state is still on an upward slope of new cases and that the peak of cases is expected to be hit between April 10 and April 20. But he said the numbers appear to be rising more slowly than the worst hot spots, suggesting the state's efforts so far are helping to "flatten the curve."

Baker stressed that Massachusetts is entering a time where there could be a serious strain on the medical system and that social distancing measures will continue to be critical.

For the first time on Wednesday, the Department of Public Health's daily report on new cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts will include data on the race and ethnicity of cases to understand how individual communities and populations are being impacted, but a top Baker administration official cautioned that the data will be incomplete.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said information on race and ethnicity will be current through April 5 and "subject to change" as public health officials work to overcome obstacles to collecting personal data.

Gov. Charlie Baker, at his daily press briefing Wednesday, also used the TV time to again stress the importance of social distancing as the state approaches the arrival of an expected surge of infections that could stress the health care system.

"We see evidence that we're still on the upward slope of this pandemic," Baker said.

The governor on Wednesday filed legislation to protect front-line health care workers from legal liability as they get drafted into the war against COVID-10 and are being asked to treat patients in unusual settings, like field hospitals at the DCU Center in Worcester and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.

He also spoke about the recommendations DPH and a panel of doctors and medical ethicists released yesterday advising providers on how to ration care and limited life-saving equipment, if it comes to that.

"We expect the guidelines to only be used in true disaster situations and of course we're doing everything we can to prevent these situations in the first place," said Baker.

The governor said he was pursuing other strategies to obtain life-saving ventilators while the state awaits word on whether it will receive more ventilators from the federal government - about 100 have arrived out of 1,700 requested.

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