Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday the state is quickly ramping up hospital capacity to treat acute COVID-19 infections ahead of an anticipated surge in cases statewide in the coming days and weeks.
Baker said the state has already added thousands of intensive and emergency care beds, and that the administration is on target to roughly double capacity statewide.
Those efforts include state-secured hotels and motels, tent-like structures that have been erected outside of some Massachusetts homeless shelters, and the conversion of Boston’s convention center into a field hospital to relieve pressure on local hospitals.
But Baker also cautioned even those efforts might not be enough. Depending on the size, timing and speed of the expected spike in hospitalizations, his administration is preparing to add even more beds if necessary. The state is already confirming more than 2,000 new cases a day.
“What we’re seeing in the models predicts big increases in the weeks ahead,” Baker said. “That means our resources will be stretched like never before.”
Baker also said he is issuing a new advisory that residents should wear masks when outdoors or in public places like grocery stores, reiterating public health guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control last week.
Asked by members of the press about potential timelines or scenarios for “re-opening” the state, Baker grew unusually animated in emphasizing that such discussions are premature.
"Any plan associated with what happens after that is going to be based on the facts on the ground and a tremendous amount of guidance that will need to come form public health experts and others," Baker said.
“But I don’t want people do get ahead of themselves on this one, OK? We are about to have a very difficult couple of weeks here in Massachusetts,” Baker continued. “We’ll start talking about other stuff eventually. But the focus right now needs to be on what’s right in front of us. And what’s in front of us is going to be a very difficult few weeks in managing something that’s never happened before in Massachusetts."