- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 28, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Charlie Baker is extending the state’s stay-at-home advisory from May 4 until May 18 as Massachusetts continues to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

All nonessential businesses will also remain closed until the new deadline, Baker said Tuesday.

While the state has made progress combating COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Baker said it’s still too early to begin lifting restrictions that have helped slow the virus.

Hospitalizations for patients with the virus have begun to plateau, but the state still hasn’t seen the declines needed to ease up on social distancing and other steps the state has taken, Baker said at a press conference.

“You need to see downward trends,” he said, adding that the number of hospitalizations has instead remained relatively stable for the past 13 days.



Baker also said he is naming a reopening advisory board of business and political leaders, including Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, to help come up with a road map to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy. Baker said he wants that report by May 18.

“If we act too soon, we could risk a spike in infections” that could force the state to again impose restrictions on businesses and prompt another stay-at-home advisory, Baker said.

The reopening advisory board will also look at how to childcare factors into restarting the state’s economy, Baker said. Child care centers had been ordered closed until June 29, but Baker said it may make sense to open them sooner as part of a phased-in approach to reopen businesses.

When the reopening happens, it will be phased in, Baker added.

“This is not everyone at once,” he said.

Baker said he’s also extending a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people until May 18.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Massachusetts:

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COVID-19 NUMBERS

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts topped 3,100 on Tuesday, as the state continues to struggle to reign in the human toll of the coronavirus.

Massachusetts health officials reported 150 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 3,153 since the pandemic began. More than half of all deaths - 1,810 occurred at long term care facilities.

The state also reported more than 1,800 new cases of the coronavirus - an increase of more than 300 compared to Monday’s cases - for a total of 58,300 confirmed cases.

Just over 1,000 COVID-19 patients are currently in intensive care units.

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HOLYOKE SOLDIERS’ HOME

The number of deaths linked to the coronavirus at a home for veterans has risen to 66, state officials said.

The first resident of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke died from the coronavirus in late March when 226 residents - one-third of whom were 90 or older - lived at the elder care facility. As of Monday, just 106 residents remained, according to Brooke Karanovich, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services, which oversees the home.

The facility has a greater reported death toll than any other nursing home in New England, New York or New Jersey, according to a Boston Globe review.

The facility’s superintendent has been placed on administrative leave and multiple investigations are under way. He has denied wrongdoing.

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WOMEN’S PRISON

A Massachusetts prison for women has become a hot spot for coronavirus infections.

MCI-Framingham has the most prisoners with the virus, according to the Department of Correction’s weekly report, The MetroWest Daily News reported.

As of Monday, MCI-Framingham had 67 inmates who have tested positive for the coronavirus, a number that has more than doubled in the past week. There are also 14 staff members with the virus, according to the department.

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NOTARY PUBLICS

Notary publics will be able to perform their job using video conferencing during the COVID-19 public health emergency under a bill that Baker signed into law.

The law makes the official actions of notary publics valid by video conference as long as both the notary public and each principal are physically located in the state. The new law would also require notary publics to record the video conference and keep a copy and any related documents for 10 years.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said lawmakers want to make sure families, individuals and businesses can execute wills, proxies, real estate transactions and other important documents.

The new law sunsets three days after the state of emergency is lifted.

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