Gov. Baker taking additional steps to address medical supply issues, social distancing measures

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday his administration will be creating more field medical stations like the one at the DCU Center in Worcester.

The facilities are to help hospitals that are already overwhelmed by patients, and would get more hospital beds in place to treat an expected surge in patients.

“We are also securing 1,000 beds for step-down care options in nursing facilities for stabilized COVID patients,” Baker said. “Beaumont nursing home in Worcester will provide 300 beds for this important function to protect our seniors, and the step-down plan will help hospitals make room for new patients more quickly once patients gets stabilized.”

Baker also announced that the state will be closing all coastal beach reservation parking areas and will be expanding access to parks to ensure additional open space opportunities for the population.

The emergency order issued by Baker will close down parking at coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches for both parking and dropping off passengers to prevent large gatherings. State beaches will remain open for pedestrians for transitory use only, such as walking, jogging, biking, solitary fishing, etc.

A link to find specific parking and traffic restrictions can be found here.

State parks and their associated parking areas will stay open - despite some limitations at high-visitation state parks - wherein some seasonal state parks will be opening early and there will be more access at other parks to provide additional open space so people can safely practice social distancing.

Complete details on what’s open can be found on the Mass. State parks COVID-19 information page.

Ice rinks, visitor center, campgrounds, playgrounds, fitness areas, athletic fields, athletic courts, golf courses, and bathroom facilities owned and operated by the Department of Conservation will remain closed until May 4.

At a press conference, Baker said the state has been doing everything they can to analyze data and use it to guide them in their approach to flattening the curve and combating the spread of COVID-19.

“Dr. Fauci said something interesting about projecting the surge the other day where he said that, ‘As every day goes by, we collect more data, not just from your own experience but from the experience from what’s going on in other parts of the world you can rethink and adjust your model accordingly.’” said Baker.

The medical advisory group that has been working with the Baker administration in the fight against coronavirus has developed models for when to expect a surge and what level of care people will need. Basing their approach on what happened in Wuhan, China and how they tackled the issue, the group has adapted those measures to reflect the Massachusetts population and hospital bed capacity.

According to Baker, the estimated number of confirmed cases in the state will range anywhere from 47,000 to 172,000 during the course of the pandemic, which is about 0.7% of the total population of Massachusetts.

Peak hospitalizations will happen between April 10 and 20, but Baker emphasized the current number of fatalities in the state are lower than in most other places.

“As I’ve said many times, we’re fortunate to be home to some of the best hospitals and best healthcare leaders in the country with extraordinarily talented medical teams," said Baker.

Based on projections, the state needs more hospital beds and more ventilators, aside from personal protective equipment (PPE), which Baker said they will always be in need of.

An additional 750 to 1,000 more hospital beds will be available using field hospital technology.

“Facilities like this will help clinicians relieve the pressure on the healthcare system by treating patients who do not need to be in a traditional hospital,” said Baker.

The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center has been selected as a possible location for another field hospital as well as Joint Base Cape Cod and the Mass. Mutual Building, along with smaller locations across the state. These facilities will likely be set up within the week to 10 days.