Boston doctor says hospitals are prepared for continued surge, anticipated peak of COVID-19 cases

BOSTON — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Massachusetts, the upcoming couple of weeks could potentially be the deadliest the state has endured so far, according to healthcare professionals.

On Friday, Governor Charlie Baker stated in a scheduled press conference that the peak of coronavirus cases is now expected to land on or around April 20th, later than originally projected, with upwards of 2,500 new case per day.

C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D, is a Doctor at Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center and Harvard Professor. He told Boston-25 News on Sunday that unless people experience deadly symptoms, such as trouble breathing, they should call a medical professional first before driving to a hospital.

“If you’re sick, contact your healthcare provider. They may be able to manage you at home so we don’t clog up the emergency rooms,” he said.

Dr. Gibson added that he does believe hospitals are ready to endure the pressures of an increasing surge.

“They are ready,” he said over a video conference call. “I’ve been in contact with all of my friends from around the city. They have made extra beds available. We now have over 14,000 beds available in Massachusetts, half of them acute care beds. I think we’re ready as a state.”

While patients are expected to flood emergency rooms, Dr. Gibson explained that because Boston is a healthcare mecca, they are likely to be offered new treatments if they choose to undergo a clinical trial.

“When you come to the hospital, if you are sick or critically ill, you can expect that you may be approached to enroll in a clinical trial because we just don’t know if these medicines are going to work yet or not. We appreciate your help in figuring that out ahead of time,” he said.

While a peak would ideally be followed by a gradual decline in COVID-19 cases, medical professionals have not been able to determine how long a peak could potentially last.

“We’re coming into a peak, but we hope after a peak that we’ll see the cases trail off and return to normalcy,” explained Dr. Gibson. “We just don’t know how long we’ll stay at the peak. Some countries like Iran are still at the peak. Let’s hope that we don’t have that happen here.”

Citing the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, Dr. Gibson also pointed to the possibility of a second peak. Historically, he said there was a second peak during the influenza pandemic that occurred in the Fall, which was also deadlier than the first peak. He pointed that there is always a possibility of a COVID-19 resurgence down the line.

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