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Doctor Calls Response To Second COVID Surge In Massachusetts 'Wholly Inadequate'

BOSTON (CBS) – It's been an uphill battle as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports more than 4,700 new coronavirus cases Sunday. The daily trends are alarming to Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health.

"Part of the reason I'm speaking up is I want to act earlier so we don't get to the point where we have to shut the whole state down," said Jha.

He is urging Gov. Charlie Baker and state health officials to take action against the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The second surge is only expected to get worse as we approach Christmas time.

"I think the Governor has done a really good job with the pandemic," said Jha. "But over the last six weeks, it's become very clear we're heading toward a bad wave of infections. Things have really been getting bad for six plus weeks. The response from the Governor has been wholly inadequate."

Last week, Baker mentioned at his daily Coronavirus briefing not to trust hearsay when it comes to stronger restrictions for businesses.

A spokesperson for the COVID-19 Response Command Center sent WBZ-TV a statement that reads:

"Massachusetts is one of the top testing states per capita in the nation, the Baker-Polito Administration recently put stricter guidelines in place, including a stay at home advisory, strengthened mask order and early business closures. All residents need to do their part to stop the spread of the virus so the Commonwealth can keep schools and the economy open: wear a mask, wash hands, keep your distance and avoid groups. While the administration is not announcing more restrictions now, all options are on the table as we continue to evaluate the public health data."

Restaurant owners, especially in Boston, are beginning to panic.

"Another shutdown would definitely hurt," said Jarek Mountain. He opened up Yellow Door Taqueria in Boston's South End in February, just one month before the state ordered that restaurants switch to take-out or close completely.

The Yellow Door has reopened, albeit under strict guidelines.

"We are doing everything asked," said Mountain. "We're following the curfew; we're following the capacity."

He told WBZ-TV that switching back to take-out now would be devastating: "It would definitely hurt us, especially around the holidays laying off all of our staff would be kind of heartbreaking."

It's unclear what steps the state will take next, but one medical expert believes Governor Baker must act now before hospitals get overwhelmed.

"He has to do more. We need him to help us get through this time period," said Dr. Jha.

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