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Baker Not Changing Mask Guidance Because Massachusetts In 'Dramatically Different Place' Than Other States

PEABODY (CBS) - Governor Charlie Baker is not going to change the mask guidance in Massachusetts right now, even as COVID cases rise, because he says the Commonwealth is in a "dramatically different place than many other states across this country."

Eight of 14 counties in Massachusetts are currently considered a high risk for coronavirus transmission, according to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker map. The other six are listed as a substantial risk.

The CDC wants anyone in counties with high or substantial risk to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. That means the CDC currently recommends everyone in Massachusetts wear a mask indoors.

"I'm not considering changing the mask guidance at this time," Baker told reporters at an event in Peabody Monday. "We pay a lot of attention to the data associated with case counts and with hospitalizations and the tragedies associated with the loss of life but you can't look at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and look at our vaccination rate, our hospitalization rate, and compare it to where the rest of the country is."

"The rest of the country at this point in time is averaging a hospitalization rate on a per capita basis that is many times the hospitalization rate here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The same goes with case counts," the governor said.

"The fact that so many people in Massachusetts have been vaccinated - and that is a real tribute to the enthusiasm that the people of this Commonwealth showed to getting vaccinated - has put us in a dramatically different place than many other states across this country."

Baker said he's happy to let cities and towns decide for themselves if they need mask mandates.

"The case counts vary significantly across the Commonwealth. We've generally taken the position that we establish what I consider to be a statewide standard or statewide recommendation and then we let the locals make the call that makes the most sense for them. We believe that has a lot to do with why Massachusetts has been so successful in managing the virus over the course of the past year and a half. Giving locals the opportunity to own the decisions they make is a big and important issue."

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