The COVID-19 public health crisis has placed an unprecedented strain on Massachusetts residents, businesses, our healthcare system and our economy. We’ve made extraordinary sacrifices as the state took swift science-driven measures to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
Massachusetts acted fast and early, implementing a stay-at-home advisory, social distancing guidelines and closure of non-essential businesses. Simultaneously, the state dramatically expanded testing and hospital capacity, allowing us to test 10,000 plus residents per day and increasing intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity by 80%.
The results of those measures – as difficult as they have been – are encouraging. On May 10, daily Department of Public Health data showed that the rate of daily positive COVID-19 tests dropped to 9%. After remaining above 20% for most of April, that percentage has remained in the low teens most days in May. COVID-19 hospitalizations also decreased on May 10, by 101 patients from the previous day – a cumulative decrease of almost 500 patients since May 1. Finally, the increased ICU capacity proved to be more than enough to meet the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, ensuring that every patient in need of a ventilator received one.
In short, state actions are working to save lives and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.
Yet as we acknowledge the success of these actions, we recognize the enormous economic toll these measures have taken. The state legislature and the Baker Administration will continue to work together in a bi-partisan effort to address the challenge before us of taking steps to re-open the economy. We need to get residents back to work and the economy running, but we must resist the urge to act too soon or too fast. A phased plan should be implemented cautiously, with stakeholder input and careful monitoring of new cases. Otherwise, we run the risk of endangering our workforce, overwhelming our hospitals with another surge, and prolonging the pandemic’s impact on all of us.
4th Middlesex District
This opinion piece was originally published in the Billerica Minuteman on May 13, 2020.