WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday said that he’s considering calling upon the National Guard to assist Massachusetts health care workers as hospitals struggle with a surging number of COVID-19 patients.
Health officials on Thursday reported more than 5,400 new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, as well as 1,239 hospitalized virus patients.
Ninety-three percent of the Bay State’s 9,102 medical surgical beds and 87 percent of the 1,254 intensive care beds are occupied, data provided by the Department of Public Health indicated.
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The continued surge in COVID-related hospitalizations prompted Baker to put an order in place that requires hospitals to limit certain scheduled procedures if they do not have at least 15 percent capacity.
Baker is also considering calling on the National Guard to support the state’s health care system.
“By this point in time in the pandemic, I think it should be pretty clear to everybody that I’ll use the National Guard when I think their appropriate to do practically anything,” Baker said. “God bless them. They come when you call.”
As COVID lingers for a third surge, in part due to the highly-contagious delta and omicron variants, local doctors are hopeful that new anti-viral COVID-19 pills from Merck can take some pressure off hospitals with the winter months looming.
“We’re very hopeful that a couple of different antivirals that are in pill form will become available to us in the next couple of months,” said Eric Dickson, CEO of UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Dickson also warned the public of long emergency room wait times as hospital beds continue to fill up.
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“Yesterday we had 70 patients in the emergency department across the health care system waiting for beds,” Dickson said.
While UMass Memorial has a full ICU, the facility always makes room for trauma patients but they’ve been forced to turn away transfers from some smaller facilities, and some ill residents have been forced to seek care in other states.
Baker added that he has “no plans at this particular time” to bring back field hospitals that were erected in the early days of the pandemic and again last winter.
The governors of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York have already called upon the National Guard for help amid the medical capacity crisis.
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