BU Global Health Prof.: Mass. Curve Is About 11 Days Behind New York

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Reported cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts are up 23% from Saturday. There are now 646 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state; five of those people have died.

WBUR's Morning Edition host Bob Oakes spoke with Dr. Davidson Hamer, professor of Global Health and Medicine at the Boston University School of Public Health and School of Medicine, about the new numbers and what lies ahead for Massachusetts.

Interview Highlights

On where Massachusetts is on the curve of infections

I think we're still early on the curve. I think that we're roughly, maybe nine to 11 days behind New York City.

On the impact of testing delays

Many of the hospitals have had have a lot of suspect people that are waiting for test results to be returned. There's still substantial delays with the exception of a few facilities that have their own testing in-house; more and more are trying to go in that direction. So the testing is still a barrier that's slowing down the process of identifying patients.

On the trajectory of the virus and who's vulnerable

It's a complicated disease. ...some people have a very mild syndrome and that's all they have. But others may start out with milder symptoms initially and then progress to severe manifestations — with difficulty breathing — and a subset of those will really crash and end up needing intensive care unit management. They have what's called a cytokine storm with a very intense, inflammatory response that precipitates a life-threatening situation. Now we're learning ways to try and prevent that from happening, but it that can be very dangerous.

On whether the situation will get a lot worse before it gets better

Definitely; and my hope is that the social distancing, all the measures that have been taken by the governor and by the city of Boston, are going to help ... spread things out over time and lead to an overall lower peak and less ... complications; but only time will tell.

On whether we should be prepared to live our new, isolated lives for longer than planned

I think that may be the case. I mean, I think that if we do, you know ... flatten the curve, that it's going to extend out over four to six weeks, potentially even longer, that we're going to be in this state of siege against the virus.

This segment aired on March 23, 2020.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
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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