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Massachusetts hospitals to stop many elective inpatient procedures on Friday to ensure room for Covid-19 patients

COVID-19 Update: December 7, 2020

Gov. Baker today announced that the state's hospitals will "curtail elective procedures that can be safely postponed," but that outpatient procedures that were also banned in March can continue.

'It's is not a blanket across the board curtailment," state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said: Outpatient procedures for such procedures as colonoscopies and well-baby checks can continue.

At a State House press conference, Baker said the state's now starting to see a surge-on-a-surge from Thanksgiving-related Covid-19 cases.

Even with a new field hospital in Worcester and a second scheduled to open in Lowell, hospitals simply can't keep taking in as many non-emergency non-Covid-19 patients, in part because we're no longer just running short of beds, but of doctors, nurses and other staffers, he said.

"We can't afford continue the to strain the hospital system at this rate," he said, adding he and state health officials have been talking to hospitals about such a move for several days now.

"We're certainly better to handle this than we were before," with the state far better stocked with PPE and other supplies than in the spring, but there's only so much hospitals can do, he said.

Although current hospitalization rates remain below those during the spring surge, they have been rising over the past couple of weeks. The latest state statistics, released yesterday, showed that Boston hospital beds are now 81% full. Boston ICU beds are only 57% full, but ICU beds in the Merrimack Valley are completely occupied.

Baker added that he will detail on Wednesday how the state will administer the 300,000 doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine the state has been told it will likely get by the end of the month. He said first-line responders will get shots first, followed by residents of long-term care facilities. He said he does not expect major distribution issues, because the state already has an extensive program for distributing various vaccines each year, although one difference is that the vaccine requires two shots.

Baker said both he and some mayors are very frustrated with people who keep doing stuff like having inside gatherings

He said most people in the Commonwealth are doing the right thing, but "it's critically important for people to up their game." He said he hasn't eaten with his father since February. "I don't like that," but those are the rules of this game, he said.

He said Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is fundamentally different than those in restaurants. At a holiday gathering, people sit around a table, don't wear masks, talk at and to each other, for hours, mostly with people they don't tend to spend much time with. In contrast, he said, restaurants have been strictly regulated by the state and most people going to restaurants are couples or members of the same household. And they wear masks while not opening their mouths for eating or drinking, he said.

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Comments

Gov. Baker needs to take us back to Phase 1 NOW.

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Voting closed 62

All Praise Saint Charlie!

Charlie is doing what he does best. Just enough to get by, or more often, nothing. He specializes in leading from behind. But according to the polls, he is the most beloved governor in the USA, or some such nonsense. I don't get it.

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Voting closed 29

Seriously! So we're stopping elective surgeries because the hospitals need to pivot, but gyms are still open? AND you can eat inside at restaurants? What's wrong with this picture...?

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Voting closed 64

I'm not trying to make the argument that we should not go back to phase 1, but I do think he has a tougher decision than it seems.

Without federal assistance, going back to phase 1 will put a lot of people out of work and could have serious ripple effects over the years. The "economy" is only numbers for some people, but it is literally life changing for others. With the current death rates being significantly lower than when Covid first popped up in the spring, the calculus isn't quite as clear.

Personally, I think we my taxes should be raised and that money should go to paying for people that will be put out of work during a shutdown. This seems like exactly the type of situation that should be dealt with as a community rather than just individuals. Unfortunately, that option doesn't seem to be up for consideration.

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Voting closed 30

A better approach is a full scale lockdown (no open businesses except supermarkets) but for a short, pre-set amount of time, such as 10 days. Consider it a COVID circuit breaker designed to quickly lower the rate of the spread without putting people in a position of going broke while they wait endlessly.

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Voting closed 15

"shut it all down except supermarkets"

So no pharmacies?

How does the food get to the supermarkets? Delivery drivers? So they're not "shut down". What about the workers, how do they get to work? Public transport? Gas stations? Are they allowed to open? What about food processing plants? Open? What if the grocery workers cars break down? Mechanics allowed to operate? What about plumbers? Electricians? Are they allowed to work under your plan?

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Voting closed 6

The restaurants and small businesses are all dead anyways. The hole will be too big for most by the time we get to the other side. All waiting to shutdown does is prolong their execution with more sickness and death. New capitalists will open new businesses on the other side. Completely unfair to the existing small business owners, no question, but American society and government did that to them months ago.

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Voting closed 16

A lockdown wouldn't hurt you financially. Must be nice being so privileged!

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Voting closed 21

Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!

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Voting closed 9

i just yelled this comment as I read it from the bathroom and now my wifes barely awake and entirely confused

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Voting closed 4

....maybe the hospital systems wouldn't be so strained if Baker had seen the writing on the wall, and rolled back re-opening sooner? Or, at all?

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Voting closed 26

Baker at first said simply that elective procedures would be called off, but he and Sudders clarified they're talking about elective surgeries that would require overnight stays, not outpatient surgery and procedures. So not as restrictive as what we saw in the spring.

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Voting closed 16

"safely postponed" is also an operative phrase in this decree.

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Voting closed 7

Much like beauty, "safely postponed" is in the eye of the beholder.

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Voting closed 3