“We are in the surge.” That was what Governor Baker said at his press conference on Wednesday. The “surge” refers to the influx that is expected to put health care workers and emergency medical providers under tremendous stress as those diagnosed with COVID-19 seek treatment.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been expecting this surge in demand on the health care system and has been preparing our health care facilities and workers across the state. More than 3.8 million pieces of PPE and 380 ventilators have been distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, public safety personnel, local boards of health and state agencies. Hospitals have added to their bed capacity and the Commonwealth has established field hospitals in case traditional hospitals become overwhelmed.
While we expect to continue to see sobering numbers of new cases and fatalities each day, we are also entering the period of time that our social distancing measures and restrictions on non-essential activities should start to show their effectiveness. These measures were put in place in order to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases that would overload our health care system and ultimately result in more fatalities due to a lack of resources. “Flattening the curve” allows that spike in cases to be avoided by slowing the spread and preventing additional cases of COVID-19.
This flattening of the curve will only occur when we are taking the proper precautions in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. If these precautions are not observed or are prematurely lifted, that spike could still occur, especially before new treatments are made available to combat COVID-19. It remains critical, even in the near future when we see the increase in cases start to drop, that we do not abandon proper precautions necessary to keep new cases low.
Our health care workers are going above and beyond the call of duty to be our last line of defense against COVID-19. It falls on us to be their first line of defense: practice social distancing, follow CDC and Department of Health guidelines on hand-washing and the usage of face coverings, and restrict your travel only to essential trips. We can make it through this storm, but only when we work together.