In his COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Governor Charlie Baker said that although Massachusetts is making strides in reducing transmission rates of the coronavirus, he's holding off on further loosening of the economy for the time being.

According to an article on iBerkshires.com, Governor Baker responded to a question about indoor dining and activities by saying, "One of the things we talked about is trying to get through the school reopening and the college return."

These are both really big and really important deals here in Massachusetts. They're hugely important for kids and for families and for educators and the college return is particularly important as well for many people who work at colleges and universities, and I really think for the next couple of weeks, our focus really ought to be there. And we'll talk about other stuff when we get past that.

Governor Charlie Baker

Colleges and universities began opening over the past week with many hosting reduced numbers of students on campus; local schools will be opening over the next weeks, many to a form of hybrid learning that will have children in the school buildings at least part of the week.

The governor said health data from universities will be added to the public reports that now cover hospitals, nursing homes, and state-operated facilities and correctional institutions.

So far, the return of students has not resulted in a spike in COVID-19 cases. Locally, Williams College reported yesterday 6,774 tests completed with only one positive so far.

Governor Baker went on to say, "I'm as frustrated as anybody about the fact that there are still elements of our economy that for one reason or another, aren't open. But, I mean, anybody who watched what happened in the South and in the Midwest with respect to bars and nightclubs should understand why.

"As much as those organizations are distressed and suffering under this current period of time it was pretty clear they played a significant role in significant outbreaks and new cases in many states where they were permitted to open."

Overall, the majority of communities have done well in following the guidance, according to Baker: 190, or 54 percent, have recorded five cases or fewer since mid-August and 46, or 13 percent, have reported fewer than four cases per 100,000 residents.

Forty-seven communities have improved their standings on the per-capita assessment by reducing their percentage over the past several weeks, including Springfield, which moved from high to moderate risk.

For more on the Governor Baker COVID-19 update, including details on the new Lost Wages Assistance Program, check out the full story from iBerkshires here.

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