Biddinger shares metrics of concern

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – One of the medical experts who has advised Gov. Charlie Baker throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, economic reopening and vaccine rollout on Tuesday shared with lawmakers some of the metrics that would send up some red flags and cause him to think about changing course.

“We’re seeing, right now, 1,500 to 2,000 cases per day. I think certainly if we were sustainably rising in the mid-2000s to certainly above 3,000 is a case prevalence that I worry about,” Dr. Paul Biddinger, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Disaster Medicine, said Tuesday during a legislative hearing on COVID-19 variants.

The stakes have been upped for the state’s mitigation efforts and vaccine rollout because some of the variants spreading in Massachusetts are thought to be more contagious and might be able to evade the antibodies created by vaccination or natural immunity.

“In terms of hospitalization, the numbers thankfully are much lower. We’re in the seven hundred-ish range. But I think to crest one thousand patients in hospitals again … does start to strain the health care resources of the commonwealth,” Biddinger said.

He said he looks carefully at hospitalization data and emergency department utilization as “probably the earliest indicators we have” of a change in the overall COVID-19 situation in the state. “If we wait until we know for sure, we’ve definitely waited too long,” Biddinger said.

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