Massachusetts is moving forward with the first of four phases reopen with coronavirus pandemic. By announcing the state reopening roadmapGovernor Charlie Baker stressed that progress in each phase will depend on public health data.
“We can’t move forward unless we commit to continuing to slow the spread,” Baker said at a Monday news conference.
The governor estimated each of the phases will last about three weeks and is urging state residents to continue practicing preventative measures — social distancing, wearing face coverings, frequent hand washing and cleaning high-touch surfaces, and vigilance for symptoms of the virus – to fight COVID-19 even as the state eases restrictions on business and social activities.
How state governments, private employers and individuals practice the four measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus will dictate “to what extent” Massachusetts reopens, Baker said. To measure this progress, the state uses six public health metrics to determine whether the state can move from one phase to another — or, whether the state’s reopening should stall or back off due to an increase in case.
These measures are as follows:
- Rate of positive tests for COVID-19
- Number of people who have died from COVID-19
- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals
- Health system readiness
- Testing capacity
- Contact tracing capabilities
“Collectively, we have flattened the curve and avoided the spike in cases that would have shattered our healthcare system,” Baker said. “But if we don’t keep fighting and doing the things that we all know we have to do and know we can do, we run the risk of creating a second peak in the fall.”
Officials will update the metrics weekly with stoplight colors — green, yellow and red — to indicate progress on each, representing positive, “ongoing” and negative trends, the secretary told Monday. Marylou Sudders Public Health.
As of Monday, the state only has the green light on two of the six measures — testing capacity and a drop in the number of positive COVID-19 test rates.
“The others are in the works,” Sudders said. “And of course, until we have just a handful or no fatalities, we can never say that we have a positive trend in this area. In order to maintain the progress made to date and to make us Moving forward in reopening our community, we must all continue to be vigilant about hygiene, wear face coverings and engage in social distancing.These very important public health and safety measures are our best tools. right now to protect ourselves, our colleagues, our families and our communities.”
Currently, when it comes to health system readiness, Sudders said there is 30% availability for critical care and medical surgery beds statewide.
Baker and Sudders both stressed that ramping up testing and tracing of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts with the reopening will be key, and the health secretary said the state must be prepared to see an increase in cases. positive cases and hot spots occur as people return to work.
“Testing and tracing will remain critical to getting ahead of this virus, to containing it, and it’s a critical part of our ability to keep the economy moving,” Baker said Monday.
Currently, Sudders said, the state is using only about a third of its testing capacity. The state is working to increase capacity to 45,000 tests per day by the end of July and 75,000 daily tests by the end of December.
“Our goal is to reduce our positive test rate to less than 5%,” Sudders said. “And we want to expand laboratory processing capacity to prepare for a possible wave of falls and to test residents and patients in high-risk congregational settings, including our skilled nursing facilities, correctional facilities and our publicly operated or funded hospitals and group homes.
On Tuesday, public health officials reported more than 87,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. More than 5,900 people have died from the disease since the outbreak began in the state. On Tuesday, authorities reported 873 new cases of coronavirus, 76 new deaths and 2,472 patients remained hospitalized.