Baker Talks About Economic Recovery, State Aid

Governor Charles Baker held a press conference on February 8 to talk about the importance of federal aid when it comes to economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s number of positive tests has been trending downward, and as of Sunday, there were 3,000 new cases in the Commonwealth, 1,389 people in the hospital—which Baker said was “down dramatically from January 4”—and 318 people in the ICU.

Baker also said that as of Sunday, 859,118 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the state, and more than 1.25 million doses have been shipped to providers statewide.

“It would be critical from our point of view for Congress to pass significant relief swiftly to help us beat down the pandemic, and, just as importantly, help get our economy back on track,” Baker said.

“Here in Massachusetts, our economy was powering forward last February, but COVID brought everything to a grinding halt. We collaborated with public health experts to safely and carefully reopen our economy.”

Baker said that the state “is still down 330,000 jobs from this time last year,” and although the state is “now in a much better economic spot than we were last spring,” many people still do not have jobs.

“Many jobs that have been lost will be difficult to bring back,” Baker said, such as ones in the hospitality, indoor entertainment, and other industries that Baker said he describes as being for the “the benefit of the crowd.”

He added that state finances “are also feeling the burden” of the pandemic.

“The feds can play a huge role with respect to vaccinations, testing, school reopenings for both K-12 and higher education, food insecurity, housing, rental, energy, and water assistance, small business support, and support for state’s local governments and territorial governments as they do the hard that’s going to be associated with trying to rebuild their economies, and especially deal with the dramatic changes that have taken place with respect to how and where people work since this pandemic began,” Baker said.

“I can’t understate how big a challenge that is going to be for everybody as “we move through this pandemic and on into the future,” he continued. “While we are in a critical point in our fight against this pandemic and against this virus, it’s more important than ever that there be a predictable path forward for states and for local governments as we work to do the things we are gong to need to do to rebuild our economy, deal with the consequences of the pandemic on many of our downtowns, and to find a path to make sure that all of our people here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are able to weather the final few months of this as people get vaccinated, and more importantly, are able to find a way forward, back into the workforce hopefully, and back into the life that they used to have before this all began last March.”

US House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal also spoke at the press conference to talk about President Biden’s proposed assistance package, adding that the “Speaker made it clear that this will pass,” around the second or third week of March. The package proposes $1.9 trillion in spending.

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