Will Massachusetts See a Second Wave of Coronavirus This Fall?

"Actually, no one really knows what's going to happen here," Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that the state will be ready if it is hit with a second wave of the coronavirus this fall.

Health experts have warned that the United States could see a second wave in the fall, and that combined with a bad flu season, it could put hospitals in a situation similar to the spring, where they have more patients than available beds.

"There's a lot of scenario planning going on," Baker said Wednesday. "We've been working with the folks in the healthcare community and the public health community on a variety of scenario plans with respect to the fall."

"Actually, no one really does know what's going to happen here. Part of it depends on how well we do with masks and distancing and the things we talk about."

To prepare for the possibility of a second wave, Baker said the state is working to increase its testing capacity and continues to buy personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, gowns and other items people were struggling to find in the spring.

"We're going to continue to do that all the way through," he said. "And we'll scenario plan with our colleagues in long-term care and hospital space on staffing and surging and everything we learned last spring."

With the pharmaceutical industry fast-tracking a Covid-19 vaccine, some have questioned whether the public can trust that it is safe. But Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts says people can rely on the scientific community to approve a vaccine that can be trusted.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts is still growing, but the rate of its spread actually appears to be slowing, according to data released Wednesday evening by the state Department of Public Health.

There were 4,958 people isolated with confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, up from 4,804 people in isolation carrying the highly-contagious virus as of Sept. 2, according to health officials.

That increase of 154 active cases represents roughly 3.2% growth, a slower rate of increase than the 9% increase the previous week. The number of people has been steady or climbing for two months as Massachusetts has settled into the third of four reopening phases and as students in some districts physically head back to school. During that time period, the average number of tests processed each day has been rising, too, and the share of tests that come back positive has fallen to its low point of 0.8%.

Between the report published Sept. 2 and the report released Sept. 9, Massachusetts confirmed 1,970 new cases of COVID-19 -- almost 400 cases fewer than were confirmed the previous week. Over the same time period, 1,732 people recovered from their bouts with the illness and health officials confirmed 84 more deaths linked to the virus.

When the state first began reporting the number of recoveries and number of people under isolation on June 3, there were 7,012 people isolated with active cases of COVID-19. That number of active cases rose to 7,300 in the June 10 report and then fell until settling at 2,586 as of both July 8 and July 15. The number of active coronavirus cases has been climbing since.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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