Updated 4:10 pm
In a continued effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order Friday requiring everyone in Massachusetts to wear a face covering in public if they’re not able to socially distance from other people.
The order, which includes public spaces such as businesses, outdoors, and public transportation, will go into effect on May 6.
“Covering our faces when we cannot practice social distancing is an easy, critically important, and essential step that everyone can and should take to stop or slow the spread,” Baker said.
Per the order, violators may face fines of up to $300, but enforcement is left up to local city and town officials. While stressing the need for face coverings Baker asked people not to buy medical grade masks which should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.
The order requires the nose and mouth to be covered with a bandanna, t-shirt, cloth mask, painters mask, and other material. The requirement would not apply to children two years of age and younger or people with medical issues that would prevent them from wearing a mask, according to Baker.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Martha’s Vineyard held at 19 Friday, after a string of new cases were reported throughout the week.
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has tested a total of 441 patients with 408 of those tests coming back negative and 14 pending results. There are currently no patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
According to a report from the Island’s boards of health, of the 19 confirmed cases, ten are female and eight are male. Seven of the cases are aged 50-59 years old, six cases are 60-69 years old, two are 30-39 years old, two are 20-29 years old, and one is 20 years old or younger.
On Thursday, Oak Bluffs board of health issued an emergency order requiring the use of face coverings when entering an enclosed COVID-19 essential services business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings.
During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide has plateaued.
“We have, in fact, bent the curve,” Baker said. “We did, in fact, reduce the spread. We are now living with a plateau that I’m sure all of us would like to see dip a little bit.”
Baker stressed that now was not the time to let up.
“Infectious disease specialists now believe this virus can go undetected for days and some people who test positive actually never show symptoms at all,” he said, adding that efforts are focused on eliminating “a scenario where the virus comes back.”
Hospital communications director Katrina Delgadillo confirmed that one of the confirmed COVID-19 patients transferred to Boston due to health complications has died “due to medical complications not proven to be related to COVID-19.”
That patient is one of three who have been transferred off-Island. Two COVID-19 patients were transported to Boston by helicopter and a third maternity patient was taken off-Island by ferry in a private vehicle. The two other COVID-19 transfers have been discharged, according to Delgadillo.
On the state level Friday, the Department of Public Health reported that 289,636 COVID-19 tests had been conducted, with 62,205 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide.
DPH reported 154 new deaths for a total of 3,716. The bulk of the state’s deaths, nearly two thirds, have been patients 80 or older and the average age of a hospitalized COVID-19 patient is 69. According to the state data, 6 percent of the confirmed cases are hospitalized.
Updated with current state information. — Ed.