Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday that he has no plans to bring back coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts as two communities on Cape Cod have issued mask advisories amid a spike in cases.
"We're not looking at changing any of our existing rules or policies," Baker said. "We have a set of statewide standards and they're based on what we see on a statewide basis. And if communities believe they need to pursue strategies that are more effective and appropriate for them, that they should do so, and that's exactly what Provincetown did."
He also said he has no plans to change mask guidance for school in the fall, despite a call from some lawmakers to revive a school mask mandate amid the spread of the delta variant.
But later Thursday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey said public school students in the city will in fact be wearing masks in the fall.
"There are a number of young children who still are not eligible for the vaccine. Children are currently wearing masks as they are in summer school, and at different programs around the city, and this fall, they will be wearing masks still," she said at a news conference.
Back from a recent trip to Colorado, Baker was holding two news conferences Thursday on Cape Cod, where several recent COVID outbreaks are contributing to a sudden uptick in cases across the state.
More than 250 coronavirus cases have now been confirmed as connected to a COVID outbreak in Provincetown, including at least 35 in Boston residents. The popular tourist town on the tip of Cape Cod issued a new mask advisory earlier this week in light of the increase in cases, many of them among people who had been vaccinated.
Baker's first stop was in Sandwich to announce this year's MassTrails Grants funding awards. He was also scheduled to participate in a housing roundtable in Falmouth, followed by a visit to Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium later in the day.
The governor said he will speak with the Department of Health and Human Services about whether the state should resume posting detailed public data on a daily basis about coronavirus cases, including at nursing homes, for local communities on the Cape.
When the state was reporting that information daily, Massachusetts had between 2,000 and 4,000 cases per day, Baker said.
"That number got down into the double digits -- it was so small that continuing to report that stuff daily didn't make a lot of sense," Baker said. "But with respect to what's currently going on in the outer Cape, it probably would make sense for us to give you guys some more regular information."
Nantucket joined Provincetown Wednesday in advising people on the island to start wearing masks indoors and when social distancing isn't possible.
Massachusetts health officials are also monitoring a COVID outbreak at Maplewood at Mayflower Place, a nursing home in West Yarmouth. As of Monday, 31 residents and employees had tested positive.
The report pushed the state's confirmed COVID-19 caseload to 667,341 since the start of the pandemic and its death toll to 17,667. The last time Massachusetts reported more than 457 new cases in one day was on May 16, when 494 cases were reported.
The state has been providing both testing and vaccination resources to Provincetown due to the outbreak and sent state health officials as boots on the ground. Baker urged everyone Thursday to get vaccinated, pointing to the "small" number of vaccinated people who have been hospitalized with COVID, both in the state and across the country.
"The difference between the impact of COVID on those that are vaccinated and those who aren't is stark and profound, and we continue to have the second highest vaccination rate in the country behind Vermont," he said. "My biggest message to everybody is that we should continue. If you haven't been vaccinated and you're eligible, you should get vaccinated because it is, in fact, the best and most effective way to protect yourself from COVID."
Baker spent the first half of this week in Aspen meeting with other Republican governors focused on upcoming elections. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito served as acting governor while he was away. Thursday's events were his first public appearances since returning to the state.