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No Plans To End Mask Mandate In Massachusetts, Baker Says

GLOUCESTER (CBS) -- Texas made headlines nationwide on Tuesday when Gov. Greg Abbott announced he's ending the statewide mask mandate, citing the coronavirus vaccine rollout and declining hospitalizations. In Massachusetts, there are no plans to get rid of the mask mandate anytime soon, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

"I think the mask mandate, at least until we get some answers on whether or not people who've been vaccinated can actually pass this on to somebody else, is a perfectly reasonable and appropriate place for us to continue to operate in," Baker said.

Texas joins a dozen states that currently do not have mask mandates, CBS News reports. But health experts have warned now is not the time to relax mask mandates and restrictions, even though vaccines are here.

"Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Monday. "Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities."

Massachusetts has entered Phase 3, Step 2 of its reopening, allowing restaurants to operate without capacity limits as long as they keep tables spaces six feet apart. But Baker said the increased availability of vaccines doesn't mean changes to the mask mandate are coming anytime soon.

"One of the things the vaccine does is it prevents you from getting sick, which is great," Baker said. "One of the things nobody knows at this point is whether - if you are in fact infected and you don't get sick, and you don't show symptoms, even if you've been vaccinated - are you still somebody who could carry it and give it to somebody else who's not vaccinated?"

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