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'We Flattened The Curve': Gov. Baker Promises New Timeline Guidance This Week

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said "we flattened the curve" of coronavirus cases in the state, though he added it will still take time for the number of cases to begin to decline.

"It seems to have plateaued, depending upon which part of Massachusetts you're in," said Baker. "The expectation is it will start to fall, but it will probably fall slowly."

As of Sunday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 54,938 total cases with 2,899 total deaths in the state.

Non-essential businesses are currently ordered to remain closed until May 4. Baker was asked if that deadline will be extended, and said he is not ready to make an announcement on that.

"We believe that it's important for us to create some clarity around this issue with respect to May 4, and you'll hear from us later on this week on that," Baker said.

Baker's initial order was for non-businesses to close was set to run through April 7, but it was later ordered to extend through May 4.

Baker said May 4 was chosen based on the assumption that Massachusetts would be in the surge of coronavirus cases sometime in early April. Instead, he said, the surge arrived later than anticipated.

Despite the flattened curve, Baker said it remains critical for people to stay home whenever possible.

"I would ask everyone, as difficult as it may be, to continue to stay at home unless you need to go out; to practice the social and physical distancing that's made such a difference in flattening the curve here in Massachusetts; and to continue to wear a face covering," he said.

At least a dozen states in the country are easing social distancing restrictions. When asked if he feels pressure to reopen the state because others are, Baker said the impact of coronavirus has varied widely around the country.

"For the governors who are located in states that have either very low numbers of positive tests, or very low hospitalization rates, or very low numbers of deaths relative to what we in the northeast have seen, I'm not surprised that they're starting to think very hard about reopening. Okay. But then the surge was nothing like it was in like the northeast," Baker said.

The governor added that before the state can reopen, there would need to be a clear drop in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and evidence the state is past the surge. Baker said there would also need to be rules for engagement or reopening in place and masks would play a key role.

Massachusetts General Hospital emergency physician Dr. Ali Raja told WBZ-TV, "Today on the 27th, we're finding ourselves on the tail-end of the surge and actually starting to see a decline in the number of patients with COVID that we're admitting to the hospital."

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