Charlie Baker mulls cutting party sizes as coronavirus numbers creep up in Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker said the state is “talking about” whether to change current limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings after private parties have spurred several high-profile outbreaks in recent days.

“That’s one of the things we’re talking about,” Baker said at a Thursday press conference in response to reporters’ questions about the state’s gathering size limits.

Outdoor gatherings are now limited to 100 or fewer people while indoor gatherings must be limited to 25 people, according to coronavirus guidelines.

The positive test rate has crept up to 2% in recent days after hovering around 1.7% since July 11. It’s still a low number, but Baker warned coronavirus numbers won’t stay low without “vigilance and discipline from every resident.”

The governor pointed the finger at private parties where he said people have been “careless and complacent” when it comes to wearing masks and social distancing.

A large party in Chatham earlier this month was linked to a cluster of new infections. Eight Cape Cod lifeguards were found to be infected after another party.

“The bigger issue is not so much the nature of the size of some of these gatherings, especially the private ones that are going on in backyards and places like that. The bigger issue is honestly the behavior generally at those, which is not socially distant, no masks and in some respects a lack of respect for how this virus works and how it moves from person to person,” Baker said, speaking at Pfizer in Andover.

State health officials reported 15 new coronavirus deaths Thursday, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 8,595. The three-day average of coronavirus daily deaths has dropped from 161 at the start of May to 13 now.

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