By Beth David, Editor
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said on Tuesday that residents need to continue to be vigilant in fighting the COVID-19 virus. Residents need to continue to wear face coverings, keep at least six feet away from others, wash hands frequently, and stay away from crowds.
The governor said that as the weather gets colder, people will be gathering indoors more frequently, making it easier for the virus to spread. He urged people to keep to small groups.
Governor Baker also outlined a series of steps taken or expanded since the pandemic hit in March. The state has one of the “most robust” testing networks in the nation, a first-in-class contact tracing network, and has worked to strengthen the state’s readiness in other areas.
Massachusetts has increased testing, from 2,000 a day in March, to 13,000 a day in May, to 65,000 tests per day now.The state has the capacity to test 100,000 people per day.
The time to receive results from testing has also decreased, to one or two days. All testing labs are located in Massachusetts. And the state is not relying on the federal government stockpiles for ventilators or other equipment.
Massachusetts hospitals have approximately 50 percent ICU capacity available, plus additional beds can be made available by converting medical or surgical beds. Temporary spaces can also be utilized again, such as at the five alternative medical sites the state set up in the spring.
The state has also funneled money to long term care facilities for infection control and staffing.
The state continues to stockpile PP, partnering with local manufacturers, which pivoted operations to support essential workers. The Commonwealth has added millions of pieces of PPE to the state stockpile over the last several months with sufficient material to support medical institutions if their supplies run low through 2021. In addition to masks, gowns, gloves and other PPE, the stockpile includes approximately 1,200 ventilators, almost double the number on-hand in the spring. For perspective, the peak number of ICU patients was 1,085 in April.
To leaf-peep or not to leaf-peep
The state’s travel advisory is still in place, with all New England states except Rhode Island being exempt. New York is also on the lower-risk list, so leaf-peepers have a wide variety of places to visit without worrying about restrictions, such as self-quarantining after travel.
As of Tuesday, 10/13, Fairhaven was still in the yellow (moderate risk) on the state’s interactive map (https://www.mass.gov/info-details/community-level-covid-19-data-reporting); Acushnet, Dartmouth and New Bedford were in the red (highest risk); and Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester were the lowest risk.
As of Tuesday, 10/13, Mass. had 137,565 confirmed cases, with 632 reported on that day; total deaths are 9,413, with 12 being reported on 10/13.
Visit https://www.mass.gov/ for more COVID information.
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