Open Safe Massachusetts

Our weekly trends assessment report on COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

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Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 17,000 complaints and returned $4 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.

 

 

STATUS: YELLOW

COVID Exit Strategy, a non-partisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards containing COVID-19. However, the virus has reached levels in too many US states to plan for an immediate “reopening.” Over 1,000 health professionals have now joined a call from USPIRG to shut down, start over, and do it right. We can still get COVID-19 under control, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and a ban on non-essential interstate travel

Benchmark: Daily cases per 100,000 population. Status: YELLOW

Health experts recommend that a community maintain a rate of daily confirmed infections per 100,000 population below 3 to contain COVID-19. Infections have been growing slowly in Massachusetts over the last 5 weeks, putting the 7-day moving average for daily new infections per 100,000 at 4, 1 higher than our target. To move to “Green” status, indicating  a need for caution rather than a move back towards lockdown, this number would need to fall below 4.

 

Benchmark: Sufficient testing to track the spread. Status: YELLOW

To adequately track the spread of COVID-19, a state should have sufficient testing capacity such that 2% or less of tests are returned positive. Massachusetts’s 7-day average is 3%, 1% higher than the goal. To reach a “Green” rating, the state will need to expand testing and reach a test positivity rate of 2% or less.

Benchmark: Sufficient hospital capacity to avoid crisis care. Status: RED

A state should have enough hospital and ICU beds available (less than 80% full over the last week) to take care of all patients without resorting to crisis standards of care. HHS reports that Massachusetts hospitals are currently 82% full, and Massachusetts ICUs are 81% full. Hospital occupancy must fall below 80% to reach a “Yellow” rating.

Recommendations
Massachusetts is currently failing to meet the “green” standard in 3 out of 3 of the critical benchmarks MASSPIRG has been tracking.  At a minimum, we need to stay the course and maintain all current public health measures, and be ready to move back to phase 2 if the infection rate or number of cases increase.  Our success, however, is dependent on the success of the whole country. That is why over 1,200 medical professionals have joined a call from USPIRG to shut down, start over, and do it right. We can still get COVID-19 under control in the US, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and restrict non-essential interstate travel like we have adopted in Massachusetts.

Notes and Citations

● Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyato, www.Pexels.com, Pexels attribution license.
● Color rating is based on the recommendations of COVID Exit Strategy.
● Map graphic courtesy of COVID Exit Strategy.
● Test positivity & per capita case rate derived from Harvard Global Health Institutes’s “Key metrics for COVID-19 suppression.”
● Hospital capacity recommendations derived from the CDC’s “Opening Up America Again” framework, and detailed guidance released 5/19/2020.
● Current hospital capacity reports from HHS Protect.
● Data for COVID+, test positivity, and concurrent hospitalizations derived from data collected by the COVID Tracking Project.

Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 17,000 complaints and returned $4 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.