Mass. General doctor: Getting back to normal will be a slow process

BOSTON — Here at Boston 25 News, we continue to talk with members of our outstanding medical community here in Boston to gain a better understanding of the fight against COVID-19.

On Tuesday night, Boston 25 anchors Vanessa Welch and Mark Ockerbloom spoke with Vanessa Kerry, a critical care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and founder and CEO of Seed Global Health. Here is a partial transcript of the interview.

QUESTION: What’s your biggest concern at Mass General right now?

ANSWER: "One, we need to flatten the curve. This idea, it’s really important we all buckle down and social distance and spread number of cases out over time instead of having surge cases. I have been unbelievable grateful and proud and impressed and grateful to be at Mass General to see level of preparation they have put in to respond to this in our city and to be a leader in the nation. They have done a great job but they are also reliant on this community coming together to make sure we are taking care of one another, reducing the rate of infection and really stopping the spread that is really incumbent on us and all of our actions.

The second thing that I think we are all incredibly concerned about it whether at Mass General or any hospital around the country is the lack of protective equipment or PPE. We are down to one mask a shift for folks at this point and we are having to conserve everything. I think people went out and (out of) fear bought masks in the beginning really depleted our system and we are going to need millions of masks to address COVID coming up so this is a very big concern for us."

QUESTION: You have said from beginning testing is key to turning this around and getting our lives back to normal. Just last night on your social media accounts you talked about a new test that might be able to show who’s affected, who is immune and who had recovered.

ANSWER: "We need to be scaling testing, to identify who is infected here and now. It allows us to not only to quarantine these folks and get them out of the community, it also allows us to know who they have been in contact with and shut down the rate of transmission. What’s also important is to know who has been infected and gotten better. This is a test that shows if you have amount antibodies to the infection and tells us you have immune response and who gets infected again and can be on the front lines helping to respond to COVID. It will be wonderful if it gets the scale here, It will really help us have a better sense of the size, scope, scale of the infection and who might be infected."

QUESTION: Today, President Trump said he hopes to ease restrictions and have the nation return to normal by Easter, April 12. A little more than two weeks from now, as a physician, is that date optimistic?

ANSWER: “I think it is optimistic. Normal, certainly, we will not be back to normal for months, and I think the sooner we embrace that two things happen one, the more likely we are to really buckling down and collectively go into social distancing effort together which is critical to disrupting transmission. It doesn’t help us if Massachusetts is social distancing and New Hampshire doesn’t because one, we go through 2-3 weeks of social distancing in a robust way and we start to relax things and people haven’t been doing that in a nearby community or state and they start to business with us we are doing to see a rate of re-infection. Even if we get though these next two weeks with aggressive social distancing and buckling down, we are still going to have to be slow to getting back to normal.”