COVID Exit Strategy, a non-partisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards containing COVID-19. However, the virus has reached levels in too many US states to plan for an immediate “reopening.” Over 1,000 health professionals have now joined a call from USPIRG to shut down, start over, and do it right. We can still get COVID-19 under control, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and a ban on non-essential interstate travel
Benchmark: Daily cases per 100,000 population. Status: YELLOW
Health experts recommend that a community maintain a rate of daily confirmed infections per 100,000 population below 3 to contain COVID-19. Infections have been growing slowly in Massachusetts over the last 5 weeks, putting the 7-day moving average for daily new infections per 100,000 at 4, 1 higher than our target. To move to “Green” status, indicating a need for caution rather than a move back towards lockdown, this number would need to fall below 4.
Benchmark: Sufficient testing to track the spread. Status: YELLOW
To adequately track the spread of COVID-19, a state should have sufficient testing capacity such that 2% or less of tests are returned positive. Massachusetts’s 7-day average is 3%, 1% higher than the goal. To reach a “Green” rating, the state will need to expand testing and reach a test positivity rate of 2% or less.
Benchmark: Sufficient hospital capacity to avoid crisis care. Status: RED
A state should have enough hospital and ICU beds available (less than 80% full over the last week) to take care of all patients without resorting to crisis standards of care. HHS reports that Massachusetts hospitals are currently 82% full, and Massachusetts ICUs are 81% full. Hospital occupancy must fall below 80% to reach a “Yellow” rating.Recommendations
Massachusetts is currently failing to meet the “green” standard in 3 out of 3 of the critical benchmarks MASSPIRG has been tracking. At a minimum, we need to stay the course and maintain all current public health measures, and be ready to move back to phase 2 if the infection rate or number of cases increase. Our success, however, is dependent on the success of the whole country. That is why over 1,200 medical professionals have joined a call from USPIRG
to shut down, start over, and do it right. We can still get COVID-19 under control in the US, but it will require bold, coordinated, nationwide action: universal face coverings, shutting down high risk businesses, and restrict non-essential interstate travel like we have adopted in Massachusetts.
Notes and Citations
● Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyato, www.Pexels.com, Pexels attribution license.
● Color rating is based on the recommendations of COVID Exit Strategy.
● Map graphic courtesy of COVID Exit Strategy.
● Test positivity & per capita case rate derived from Harvard Global Health Institutes’s “Key metrics for COVID-19 suppression.”
● Hospital capacity recommendations derived from the CDC’s “Opening Up America Again” framework, and detailed guidance released 5/19/2020.
● Current hospital capacity reports from HHS Protect.
● Data for COVID+, test positivity, and concurrent hospitalizations derived from data collected by the COVID Tracking Project.