[Coverage Developing] The recent rise of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and transmission rates around Massachusetts prompted a coalition of public health, education and workers' rights advocates to call on Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday to refocus his administration on controlling the coronavirus and protecting essential workers from exposure risks.

The list of requests included stronger job protections for workers so that they can stay home if they are sick and still get paid, investments in rental assistance, more detailed public health data and support for schools to upgrade older building with proper ventilation and provide staff with training and protective equipment.

"Governor Baker, we know you are under pressure from some business interests, but we also know you can do better. We are asking you to show leadership that looks ahead, and protects public health, with comprehensive policy," said Lady Lawrence, from Housing=Health.

On Monday, the day that indoor and outdoor dining options were expanded, the state reported another 367 cases of COVID-19 and 11 new deaths after a weekend that saw more than 1,100 new cases diagnosed and a positive test rate above 3%.

One metric that gauges how quickly the virus is spreading puts Massachusetts behind only Wyoming in how fast the virus is growing.

"Despite these warnings that COVID-19 is trending upward in Massachusetts, in just the last few days we've seen really concerning actions by the governor," said Rep. Mike Connolly, a Cambridge Democrat.

Connolly was referring to Baker's decision to increase restaurant seating capacity to 10 people per table outdoors and indoors, and to allow bar seating for food service for the first time since March.

He also faulted Baker for ignoring a new law requiring more detailed virus reporting on nursing homes, and joined with other community leaders in urging Baker to reconsider his intention to allow the eviction moratorium to expire on Oct. 17.

~ Matt Murphy/SHNS

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