The latest updates from Governor Charlie Baker and the Baker-Polito administration. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that Massachusetts does not plan any additional COVID-19 closures or restrictions, while warning of a growing number of coronavirus groups in places of worship. With the state in the midst of the holiday season, the governor urged those attending services at places of worship to wear a mask, social distance, and not attend cafes or other gatherings before or after a service. In the absence of clear federal guidance, we need decisive leadership in Massachusetts.
We recognize that there will be serious economic effects from a shutdown, and we will certainly need financial assistance at the federal and state levels. However, the consequences of continuing as usual will be much worse. We ask Governor Baker to close all non-essential businesses in Massachusetts, as soon as possible. Whoever violates any provision of this Order may be punished by a non-criminal disposition process as provided in the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40, Section 21D and the City's non-criminal disposition regulations.
According to the protocols of the CDC and the Massachusetts DPH, it is concluded that COVID-19 is significantly present throughout the Billerica community. The increase in the number of cases, combined with the onset of colder weather and the upcoming holidays, have raised the question of whether the state will move towards a broader closure. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health requires that you quarantine if you have had close contact with a person positive for COVID 19 within 48 hours of testing positive. These tests resulted in a significant number of positive cases and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Billerica Department of Public Health have been collaborating with Life Care to ensure that they continue their strict protocols during this period.
During the press conference, it was announced that there is an increased risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is discouraging municipalities from reporting the number of cases. And because all of the community measures in Massachusetts look great right now, I think the risk is progressively decreasing. Forty-eight cities and towns in Massachusetts had one or more cases associated with a group in a house of worship.
We also call on Governor Baker to provide direct assistance to those affected by this critically important shutdown, including a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, sufficient paid leave for all workers, immediate support for small businesses, and ensure that testing and COVID-19 medical treatments are available free of charge to MA residents. This will be compared to the percentages of Middlesex County and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts populations.