Doctors Concerned As COVID Cases Plateau In Massachusetts
BOSTON (CBS) – In Massachusetts, there is a race to vaccinate as many people as possible and doctors say the state needs more shots and soon if the number of COVID cases are going to decrease to a rate they were last summer.
"I do think there is an increasing fear here that we are celebrating a victory for a game that we probably haven't yet won," said Dr. Mark Siedner, infectious disease specialist at Mass General Hospital.
If you look closely at Massachusetts' COVID-19 numbers, you will notice they are not decreasing as fast as they were last month.
"It's a flattening. It's a plateauing and we don't like that. Because a plateauing could easily turn into an uptick at any moment," said Dr. Shira Doron, epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center.
Taking a look at last Tuesday vs. this Tuesday, the state had 1,018 cases and a positivity rate of 1.86%. Now there are 1,476 cases and a positivity rate of 2.2%.
"When we look at countries in Europe that are experiencing a surge, we have to realize that that could happen to us," Dr. Doron said.
Doctors say there is no reason to panic, yet, but there is a risk right now that infection trends could change course if vaccination rates don't pick up, and soon.
"We can vaccinate our way out of this," Dr. Siedner said.
"It is possible, that if we can just go faster soon, we can outrun those infections with injections," Dr. Doron said. "That's the hope. But it's such a delicate balance right now that it could go either way."
There is one positive trend, though, even with plateauing infection rates, hospitalizations are relatively low and the ages of those infected show the success of vaccines so far. With the majority of cases in people under 19, and the numbers decreasing in older populations, just 666 cases in people between 70 and 79.
"We have to look at whether that represents vulnerable people who are actually at risk of ending up in the hospital. That calculation is changing," Dr. Doron said.
Dr. Doron and Dr. Siedner said there are risks associated with some factors of the state's recent reopening -- and if the numbers don't continue to go down, the state should reconsider some of the new rules.
Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment.
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