BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said projections have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts possibly seeing 47,000 to 172,000 COVID-19 cases.
The Commonwealth currently has more than 7,500 cases, as of April 1.
The surge in coronavirus cases could come between April 10-20, said the Governor.
The population of Massachusetts is about 7 million.
The Governor said Massachusetts is seeing currently a 1.5% death rate with COVID-19. There have been 122 deaths as of April 1.
“We need to plan for the worst,” said Gov. Baker today, April 2.
“Our medical system will be stretched,” said the Governor.
The Baker-Polito 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 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, according to the state.
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, said the Governor.
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.
In response, the Administration is aiming to find or build an additional 750 – 1000 beds in field medical hospitals and other alternate care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible.
The Governor and the Lt. Governor toured a medical facility 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, said the Governor.
The Administration has secured a contractor who can build out sites once a healthcare partner has been finalized.
The Command Center is also securing 1,000 beds in capacity for step-down care options in nursing facilities for stabilized COVID-19 positive patients who can be transferred out of the hospital to make room for those with higher medical need.
The Governor said more beds and ventilators are still needed.
One Million N95 Masks From China
The Governor specifically thanked officials in China and the New England Patriots, who flew their plane to China to pick up a million N95 masks.
Many will stay in Massachusetts, but some will also go to New York and Rhode Island, said Gov. Baker.
The Governor specifically thanked the Kraft family for their persistence to get the masks for the Commonwealth.
The plane flew to Shenzhen, China early Wednesday morning to pick up the supplies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“It was designated as a humanitarian aid mission,” said Governor Baker.
The aircraft was reportedly allowed to be on the ground in China for no longer than 3 hours.
Governor Baker also thanked the Governor of Alaska for allowing the plane to stop there for this aid mission.
The masks are generally around $5 to $6 each.
There are now more than 225,000 cases of the coronavirus in America. In Massachusetts, there are 7,738 cases as of April 1. Worldwide the number of cases is approaching 1 million.
“I feel like March 6 to today is one day,” said the Governor in the press conference.
Gov. Baker encouraged people to continue to practice social distancing and to stay at home to help flatten the curve.
“It’s hard to tell where the end is,” said the Governor on the virus.
“We are now the third-largest tester in the country,” said Gov. Baker.
Gov. Baker said New York and Washington (state) are the only other states that have tested more individuals.
“Testing in the long run … will help us play a little bit of offense as opposed to defense.”
Editor’s Note: The press conference with the Governor is currently taking place, and this report will be updated. Please refresh to see updates.