Massachusetts deaths top 5,000 as governor weighs reopening

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Protesters display placards while demonstrating against the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak, near the home of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, in Swampscott, Mass., Monday, May 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

With states across the country beginning to reopen businesses, Massachusetts’ governor is facing mounting pressure to follow suit even as coronavirus deaths reached another grim milestone.

The state reported 129 new deaths Monday, bringing the total to 5,108.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker recently allowed golf courses to open after an outcry and gun shops began selling again after owners sued. Now, with virus deaths topping 5,000, state leaders and health experts are urging restraint amid growing angst among businesses owners and residents over when and how the economic restrictions will be lifted.

Many business owners are increasingly worried about their livelihoods.

“I’ve worked my entire life since I was like 13 and it’s part of who I am,” said Dawn Desrosiers, who owns a hair salon, Hair 4 You, in the small central Massachusetts town of Hubbardston. “For someone to say I can’t, it’s just been a big blow.”

Desrosiers, who started an online petition calling for salons to be able serve one customer at a time, said she has had to pick up landscaping and housing cleaning work just to get by. She said she believes she can operate safely and fears her shop won’t last too much longer if she can’t get customers or government aid soon, she said.

“It’s awful, stressful, thinking am I going to survive?” she said.

There are signs that the virus’ spread is slowing in the hard-hit state. But Baker has cautioned that those sprigs of hope could be lost if residents don’t remain vigilant.