This Mass. Lawmaker Is an ER Doctor. He's Warning of a 2nd Coronavirus Wave

Because there are so many people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic, Rep. Jon Santiago stressed the need for more contact tracing

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Massachusetts state Rep. Jon Santiago -- an emergency room doctor -- is raising concerns about the potential of a second wave of the novel coronavirus as the state cautiously reopens.

Santiago, who represents the 9th Suffolk District, says the state is not administering enough tests per day to safely open the economy. Some experts say the state should be testing anywhere between two and six percent of the population daily, he said.

"If you're thinking about where we’re at right now, which is 10,000 (tests per day), and where the governor wants us by the end of July, which is 45,000, and experts are saying potentially up to 140,000 -- we have a long way to go," Santiago said.

"I don’t see a plan in place to really get there."

Just over 13,000 people were tested in Massachusetts Wednesday, according to data from the Department of Public Health, bringing the total number of tests performed to 489,953 to date.

Because there are people with COVID who are asymptomatic, Santiago said efforts should include antibody testing to get a better sense of how widespread the coronavirus is throughout the state.

Santiago spends his weekends on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus, working in the busiest emeat Boston Medical Center.

While the number of COVID patients in the hospital have gone down dramatically at the hospital – from 225 at its peak to 60 within recent days – Santiago said he still has concerns when it comes to reopening businesses.

Even though the number of positive cases has also dropped throughout the state to about 10%, Santiago thinks the number still needs to be significantly lower in order for people to feel comfortable going out again, especially without a vaccine.

"The only way to that we're going to be able to halt the transmission of the virus is through a vaccine or through people that have been exposed, assuming that exposure confirms some sort of immunity," Santiago said. "In lieu of the vaccine, we have to increase testing and increase our ability to contact trace."

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