Baker Says More Icu Beds Are Needed; COVID Death Rate Lower Here than Other States

State’s trajectory could be lower due to less smokers and early social distancing

Gov. Charlie Baker an­nounced good and bad news on Thursday requir­ing the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming 20 days – with the good news being there are ample Acute beds and the state’s death rate from COVID-19 is lower than other states, and the bad news being that even with an expansion of ICU beds at existing hospitals the state will likely be short up to 500 beds.

State officials, in re­sponse, are looking to build Field Hospitals to take the stress off of medical centers – including hiring a con­tractor that can quickly be­gin to build out places like the South Boston Conven­tion Center if need be. The plan to build up to 1,000 beds in this fashion around the state.

Gov. Baker’s COVID-19 Response Command Cen­ter today (April 2) out­lined projections related to the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, which they believe will come be­tween April 10-20.

The projections are the result of the Command Center’s work with medical experts to complete model­ing of the outbreak in Mas­sachusetts. The Administra­tion also detailed its efforts to respond to this surge, including a significant in­crease in hospital capacity, staffing, and equipment.  

COVID-19 Surge Plan­ning:

•Modeling and Projec­tions:

The Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with its Advisory Board of medical experts and epidemiologists from Har­vard University, University of Guelph and Northeastern University to refine mod­els related to the expected surge of COVID-19 cas­es. These efforts include modeling the surge’s tim­ing, number of cases, nec­essary bed capacity, and work to find facilities that will meet overfill capacity. The model’s projections are based on the experi­ence of Wuhan, China, but Massachusetts’ trajectory could differ due to lower population density, lower smoking rates, and earlier social distancing measures. The Command Center has also been comparing to ex­perience in other states and around the world.

The model’s latest pro­jections estimate that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massa­chusetts could range from 47,000 to 172,000 (or 0.7% to 2.5% of the total popu­lation of Massachusetts). The models show hospital­izations would potentially peak between April 10-20. The current fatality rate in Massachusetts is lower than other areas – it is approxi­mately 1.5 percent of those infected. The Command Center is monitoring this statistic closely.

The COVID-19 Re­sponse Command Center is working with hospitals to provide them with flexibil­ity to expand ICU capaci­ty. The Commonwealth is asking academic medical centers and teaching hospi­tals to work to significantly expand their ICU capacity. But after hospitals execute on their surge plans, the model estimates there could be a remaining gap in ICU capacity of more than 500 beds.

•Response Efforts:

In response, the Admin­istration is aiming to find or build an additional 750 – 1,000 beds in field med­ical hospitals and other al­ternate care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible. Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito visited the first of these Field Medical Stations at the DCU Center yesterday.

The Administration has identified additional pos­sible sites for Field Medi­cal Stations including the Boston Convention & Ex­hibition Center, Joint Base Cape Cod, Springfield’s Mass Mutual Building and other smaller locations. The Administration has secured a contractor who can build out sites once a healthcare partner has been finalized.

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