Boston Scientist Says Actual COVID-19 Cases Could Approach 6,000 in Massachusetts

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There are now over 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, but the true number could be around 6,000, says Sam Scarpino, a professor of network science who heads up Northeastern University’s Emergent Epidemics Lab.

Scarpino and his colleagues have built a computer-generated model of coronavirus cases around the world and are now looking for effective measures that can be translated into a game plan for Massachusetts.

He says China has demonstrated that if we are prepared to take social distancing seriously here in the U.S., we should be able to lower the death rate from complications related to COVID-19. Scarpino also warns that "flattening the curve" — the term used to describe lowering the surge of hospitalized patients, may also mean lengthening the time of the epidemic — a hard but necessary tradeoff.

This segment aired on March 18, 2020.

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Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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