Second surge checklist: What Massachusetts still needs to fight another coronavirus wave

Boston Herald – August 26, 2020

Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH (President & CEO, Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC) and other healthcare professionals put together a checklist of what Massachusetts still needs to prepare for a potential second surge of COVID-19 cases.

In this July 5, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers help each other with their personal protective equipment at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The PPE that was in dangerously short supply during the initial weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running out again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Massachusetts is likely to confront a second surge of coronavirus in the fall and although medical professionals learned a lot from the first peak, gaps still remain in preparation for another wave.

These are things that Massachusetts still needs in order to fight a potential second surge of COVID-19 cases, according to experts:

  • Personal protective equipment: Gowns and N95 masks are still difficult to come across
  • Staffing: Many hospitals were forced to lay off staff members who still have not been rehired
  • Reliable, rapid testing: Testing can still take days to receive results and false negatives and positives are possible
  • Routine care appointments: Many patients still have not returned to the hospital for routine care, worrying doctors about unmet medical needs
  • Standardized protocols: Strict state guidance, with consequences if not met, on testing, treating and monitoring patients
  • Treatment: Access and availability of safe COVID-19 treatments that can be taken before or once a person feels sick
  • Vaccine: A safe and effective coronavirus vaccine that can be distributed and conveniently administered

The checklist of outstanding needs was compiled by President and CEO of Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, Steve Walsh; Massachusetts Nurses Association President, Donna Kelly-Williams; CEO of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Medical Center, Alexa Kimball; and Newton-Wellesley Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, Kevin Whitney.