reopening

Some Experts Call for Return to Phase 2 as Mass. Coronavirus Cases Climb

COVID-19 cases are on an uptick in Massachusetts, prompting calls for a rollback of the state's reopening

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As Massachusetts starts to see an uptick in coronavirus cases, some experts are calling for the state to roll back its reopening process.

At the same time, business owners are facing an uncertain future as they wait for more clarity.

The positive test rate in Massachusetts has slowly surpassed 2 percent.

Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to say what would trigger a change in restrictions, but experts say the data speaks for itself. The state has gone from 142 new cases reported on July 15 to more than double that with 353 new cases on Aug. 2.

Sam Scarpino, an expert in epidemiology and assistant professor at Northeastern University, said the trajectory is concerning.

"We may need to consider moving back to Phase 2 or a modified Phase 2," he said.

Scarpino said any change in restrictive measures would need to happen soon if the state wants cases to stay low and schools to reopen. He also said he believes the state needs to figure out what's causing the increase in cases to address it properly.

"As opposed to just rolling back to Phase 2, we could be more specific as to what was working in Phase 2 that isn't working now," Scarpino said.

Rep. Jon Santiago, D-9th Suffolk, said he is also concerned about the uptick. He filed a bill pushing for measures that would prevent a second surge, such as restrictions on travelers and fines for not wearing masks.

"We know that we are headed in the wrong direction, so we should at least pause," Santiago said.

Santiago also works as a physician at Boston Medical Center. He said the public deserves to know more about the health metrics and what they could mean.

"We should all know what will necessitate a return to some sort of lockdown or Phase 2," Santiago said.

One of the business owners watching closely is Erin Madore of Savin Hill Fitness in Dorchester. She just reopened her studio to clients after being shut down for nearly three months, and she is taking every precaution.

"We follow all of the guidelines," Madore said. "We take temperature checks and we keep everyone far apart."

She and her staff have learned to be flexible during the pandemic, but they are hopeful they will not have to face another closure.

"I don't know how we or our industry could survive another total shutdown. I think we all need to do whatever we can to prevent that," Madore said.

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