Starting next week, any Massachusetts hospital or hospital system with limited capacity will have to reduce previously scheduled procedures deemed non-essential and non-urgent, the Baker administration announced Tuesday.
The guidance, which goes into effect Monday, is meant to preserve hospital capacity amid staffing shortages amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"The current strain on hospital capacity is due to longer than average hospital stays and significant workforce shortages, separate and apart from the challenges brought on by COVID,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in a statement.
She added that the commonwealth's hospitalizations from COVID are lower than almost every other state in the nation, but noted that "this order will ensure hospitals can serve all residents, including those who require treatment for COVID-19."
As of Monday, 88% of Massachusetts' medical and surgical beds were occupied and 80% of the beds in its intensive care units were occupied, according to Department of Public Health statistics on its vaccine dashboard.
Some coronavirus metrics have been rising in Massachusetts in the last week, including the number of new cases being reported each day and tests' positivity rates.
Non-essential, non-urgent medicals procedures are ones that are not for a medical emergency and in which the delay will not cause adverse outcomes for the patient's health.