Baker Announces Hospital Changes and More Testing
Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday a "rapid increase" in COVID-19 cases being recorded across Massachusetts in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday is starting to put pressure on hospitals, which beginning Friday will "curtail" inpatient elective procedures that can be safely postponed.
The governor also said his administration was reviewing the post-Thanksgiving data and considering additional restrictions that might be necessary, and would have more to say "soon."
Baker said the rise in infections is not only filling available bed space, but leading to shortages in front line health care staff who have either contracted the virus or been exposed. "We can't afford to continue straining the hospital system at this rate," Baker said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said the curtailment of elective procedures will be limited to inpatient treatments and procedures that impact inpatient capacity, and not outpatient surgeries or appointments for mammograms, regular pediatric checkups or other services.
Baker also announced an expansion of testing that he said will soon give the state the ability to conduct 110,000 tests a week at its state-run sites. The expansion includes three new free express testing sites in Framingham, New Bedford and Lynn that will be able to test 1,000 people a day.
Free "Stop the Spread" testing sites for people with or without symptoms will also be opened in Barnstable, Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire counties, bringing the total number of state testing sites to 25. "All of these sites will be able to deal with the fact that its getting colder and winter is coming," Baker said.
Also on Monday, the Department of Public Health reported 2,463 new cases of COVID-19 from 43,304 total new tests and announced 30 recent COVID-19 deaths. A total of 250,022 cases have been confirmed in Massachusetts and 11,035 people have died of confirmed or likely cases of the virus.
— State House News Service