Massachusetts set a record for coronavirus testing Sunday, with 110,280 tests administered, a spike Gov. Charlie Baker warns could indicate that many residents are preparing to travel and see relatives this Thanksgiving, something the governor warns could be risky.
State and federal officials have been asking people to cancel holiday get-togethers. The CDC last week said "the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, echoed this concern in an interview with GBH News Monday. “I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving," Fauci said. "But when you take your mask off to eat and have a glass of wine and talk in a lively manner because everyone is happy, that’s how infections get spread.”
Baker said that while avoiding travel is the safest option, "I would hope the other thing that comes out of this from those who do choose to travel is an awareness and appreciation for why it's important to take the proper precautions," Baker said at his Monday COVID-19 press conference.
"Recognize and understand that you should wear a face covering, they should wear a face covering, people should distance," Baker said, adding that anyone visiting relatives, especially older relations, should not let their guard down.
Baker said public health experts will need to wait and see if the record-setting day of testing Sunday, with a three percent positive rate, is a trend related to the new surge in COVID cases or attributable to a pre-holiday rush.
"It's going to continue or actually start to move down, and we won't know that until we get a few more days worth of data," Baker said.
Baker's administration is launching a new public awareness campaign to encourage people to stay indoors, practice social distancing and the other precautions as the state buckles down for another surge in cases and stresses to the hospital system.
"The campaign is called Get Back Mass., and it's a reminder that we must continue to fight so we can get back to the things we love to do," Baker said of the digital and television campaign, which will be available in several languages.
Baker, who will spend his Thanksgiving holiday with his wife and daughter, reiterated his message that safe gatherings are small gatherings this year.
"Try to think about the fact that small can be intimate and just as special as larger gatherings," Baker said.
"Larger gatherings are simply not worth the risk to you or your loved ones."
Kirk Carapezza contributed to this report.