Gov. Charlie Baker defended his administration's response to large gatherings that spread COVID-19 Thursday while rolling out a new public information campaign aimed to slow the virus's spread in hot-spot communities.
The group Boston Black COVID-19 Coalition accused Baker and Boston police of ignoring a large party on Talbot Avenue in Dorchester last Friday and Saturday, writing in a release that the gathering attracted "several thousand people" and "was indisputably the largest super spreader event in New England since the start of the pandemic."
Baker said he was aware of the event and that state and Boston Police peacefully broke it up.
"With all of the tension that's out there these days that exists between law enforcement and people generally, they handled it exactly the way you would want them to," Baker said.
The large party and subsequent police dispersal come as the state intensifies attempts to slow the virus in cities with infection rates persistently above the state's average of 4.2 per hundred thousand. The communities of Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn and Revere, shown as red in maps detailing viral spread, are the focus of new public service announcements and advertising.
"Everyone in communities that are shaded red on that map really needs to go above and beyond to do their part to stop the spread in their own community," Baker said.
New websites in English (Mass.gov/StopCOVID19,) Spanish (Mass.Gov/DetenCOVID19,) Portuguese (Mass.Gov/PareCOVID19) and other languages will encourage residents to wear face coverings, wash their hands, avoid crowds, get tested and stay home. Similar messages will appear on multilingual signs and billboards throughout those target communities.
"We know that this virus impacts Black and brown communities disproportionately. And we are seeing those impacts in the city Revere," Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said at Baker's Thursday COVID-19 update press conference.
Baker said he understands the psychological stress and exhaustion people face after months of physically distancing from loved ones and friends, and admitted that he and his own staff are tired of the precautions needed to stem the pandemic.
"None of us were brought up anticipating that we would end up living a significant portion of our lives away from a lot of the people that we normally spend time with," Baker said, adding that his own family and social circle outside of work has shrunk to about 10 people he and his wife interact with.