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Mask use now mandatory in Massachusetts

  • Men wearing protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic exit a Walmart, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Walpole, Mass. An executive order signed the previous week by Gov. Charlie Baker took effect Wednesday mandating the use of masks when individuals are not able to socially distance themselves from others. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • People wear masks out of concern for the coronavirus while standing in line outside a Salvation Army food pantry, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

Published: 5/6/2020 6:24:12 PM

BOSTON — All Massachusetts residents are now required to wear masks or facial coverings when in public.

An executive order signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last week took effect Wednesday mandating the use of masks when individuals are not able to socially distance themselves from others.

Under the order, masks must be worn in grocery stores and pharmacies, on public transit and in cabs, taxis and ride-hailing services. The order also allows store owners to deny entry to anyone not wearing a mask.

Those who refuse could face fines as high as $300.

Children under 2 are exempt, as are those with certain medical conditions.

The use of masks is key to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Baker said Wednesday.

“It’s clear this virus is highly contagious and can be spread person to person without symptoms,” the Republican said at a press conference.

The order defines a facial covering as anything that covers the nose and mouth, including masks, scarfs or bandannas. People should not use medical-grade face masks, which should be reserved for medical workers, Baker said.

More developments in Massachusetts:

COVID-19 update

Massachusetts recorded another 208 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, bringing to 4,420 the total number of deaths recorded in the state since the pandemic’s start.

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts surpassed 72,000 on Wednesday after the state reported an additional 1,754 individuals who have tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units now stands at 922, while the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is more than 3,500.

The number of deaths at long-term care facilities stands at 2,653 — or 60% of all COVID-19-related deaths in the state.

Voting options

Voters would have more options to cast ballots under legislation proposed by Galvin.

Under the proposal, any Massachusetts voter could choose to vote by mail in the Sept. 1 primary and the Nov. 3 general election.

The plan would allow for 18 days of early voting for the November election, including two weekends, as well as seven days of early voting ahead of the September primary.

Galvin is also asking lawmakers to let election officials mail early ballots as soon as ballots are ready. Current law limits the availability of mail-in ballots to a two-week early voting period prior to the election.

Under existing law, early ballots can only be returned by mail or in person by the voter. Galvin’s plan would instead let voters to return ballots to an official drop box or ask a family member to deliver the ballot by hand.

Boston Pops

The Boston Pops Orchestra has released a musical tribute to health care workers, first responders, supermarket clerks and other critical personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The performance of “Summon the Heroes” released Tuesday was composed by John Williams for the 1996 Olympic Games and includes an introduction from conductor Keith Lockhart, as well Williams himself, recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles.

The virtual performance includes 78 musicians playing from their living rooms, kitchens, basements and bedrooms.

A recording engineer and a video engineer edited the piece from their homes.

Williams compared workers on the front lines of the pandemic to the athletes for whom the piece was composed.

“Like our wonderful athletes, they are performing Olympic feats of their own, tending to our health and wellbeing, and by doing so lifting all our spirits through the care and compassion they show the world each and every day,” he said in a statement released by the Pops.

Flyover tribute

Four F-15s from the 104th Fighter Wing based at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield conducted a flyover of several Massachusetts hospitals and medical facilities on Wednesday to pay tribute to health care workers.

“Air Force Salutes flyovers are a way for the U.S. Air Force to show appreciation to the thousands of heroes on the front lines and all our brave Massachusetts neighbors battling and supporting the COVID-19 response,” the 104th Fighter Wing wrote on its Facebook page.

Walmart closures

Two more Massachusetts Walmart stores have temporarily closed over coronavirus concerns, the company and health officials say.

The stores in Abington and Avon were closed Wednesday so employees can be tested for the disease and the facilities can be cleaned.

Abington Public Health Director Marty Golightly told The Enterprise of Brockton that several employees of the Abington store have tested positive.

A Worcester Walmart was closed last week after dozens of workers tested positive, but has since reopened.

The Quincy Walmart closed this week after one one employee died of COVID-19 and several others tested positive.


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