Leading health experts warn that Massachusetts hospital capacities have reached a “crisis point” due to rising COVID-19 cases and are urgently pleading with the public to take five steps to lessen the strain on its healthcare system.
In a joint statement signed by the leaders of nine state hospitals Wednesday, health experts said emergency rooms and hospitals are “nearing full capacity” as the Omicron variant dominates the region ahead of the holiday season.
Here are the five crucial steps residents can take to ease the COVID-19 strain on hospitals, as outlined by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.
1. Get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu, along with getting a COVID-19 booster shot when eligible. Residents can book free vaccination appointments by visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov or checking with their local pharmacy. More information can about booster shot eligibility can also be found on the state’s website.
2. Always wear a face mask when in public, or when social distancing is not possible. Gov. Charlie Baker implemented an indoor mask advisory for public spaces on Tuesday, as reported by The Globe.
3. Get tested for COVID-19 after exposure to the virus, or if symptoms develop. The state announced earlier this month that it would distribute 2.1 million free at-home COVID-19 tests across the Commonwealth. Residents can learn how to obtain free at-home test kits or schedule an in-person testing appoint by visiting the state’s website.
4. Keep up with regularly scheduled medical appointments. Last month, The Globe reported that some Massachusetts hospitals were overwhelmed with surgeries and procedures due to patients putting off medical care until the last minute during the pandemic.
5. Seek care from a doctor or local urgent care center when appropriate, as to reduce strain on hospitals. Gov. Baker also activated the National Guard on Tuesday to assist overwhelmed hospitals across the state.
“The good news is that we have the tools to turn the tide, but it will take a team effort,” the statement read. “It will take a renewed sense of diligence and responsibility from everyone who calls Massachusetts home.”
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Katie Redefer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.