Boston Mayor Marty Walsh continued to stress the importance of obeying the state's stay-at-home advisory on Wednesday, saying it's the key to saving lives and slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said there are still no plans to lock down the city or order a shelter-in-place, though he said the consulting agency the city hired, which is led by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is working to prepare the city for just that possibility.
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"We're preparing for whatever it takes," Walsh said. "At this point we want to get as many people disciplined to shelter in place. People don't have to take the next step if people abide by the rules."
"We are certainly not ruling anything out in the city of Boston," he added. "And one of the things the McChrystal group is doing is preparing us in the inevitability of shutting down the city."
Walsh said he'll make his decisions based on what the numbers look like. He said he is anticipating an increase and then hopefully they'll start to see the curve level out.
The mayor also issued two press releases Wednesday morning, one announcing temporary approval for the use of plastic bags at Boston businesses and another announcing new resources for small businesses in Boston impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, Walsh confirmed that a second Boston resident had died from COVID-19. At the time, he said there were 133 coronavirus cases in the city, 15 of whom had already recovered. A city police officer, an EMT and two firefighters are among those who have tested positive.
Also on Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close to the public for two weeks starting Tuesday and issued a stay-at-home advisory for the same period of time.
For most people, health officials say the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, however, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The Massachusetts Department of Health announced Wednesday that there are now 1,838 coronavirus cases in the state, including 15 deaths. Nearly 20,000 have now been tested.
The Bay State residents who have died ranged in age between their 50s and 90s, health officials said.
Massachusetts accounts for a small fraction of the nationwide tally, which topped 50,000 coronavirus cases with 637 fatalities in NBC News' count earlier Tuesday afternoon. New York State makes up about half the total number of cases and about a third of the deaths.