First responder vaccinations begin today across the commonwealth. There are more than 45,000 first responders in Massachusetts, including fire and police personnel and EMTs.
The state’s capacity limits – for most businesses 25% – will remain in effect for an additional two weeks, until January 24, Governor Baker announced last week, citing the increasing COVID-19 burdens on hospitals and health systems.
MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh endorsed the governor’s action, saying, “We cannot take the availability of our healthcare community for granted, and we have witnessed the negative consequences that arise when healthcare systems become overburdened. At this pivotal crossroad, we urge individuals to follow key safety guidelines to stop the spread of this virus, which protect our caregivers and save lives.”
According to daily hospital reporting, COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts occupied 189 hospital ICU beds on November 12, and as of January 7 that number was 450. There were 669 patients in hospital medical/surgical beds on November 12; on January 7 there were 2,049 patients in those beds.
The American Hospital Association wrote a letter
to U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week asking for urgent clarification of HHS’ vaccine distribution policy. AHA wrote, “Throughout the country, we are hearing of issues that need to be addressed, including hearing that some hospitals received far less vaccine than they requested and needed, while others received more than they could use for Priority 1 individuals, but without an explanation for this mismatch.” When HHS is asked to resolve issues, the response has not been encouraging. “It is unclear who is responsible for answering questions or by what mechanism all interested parties will receive the answers to these questions that should shape their actions going forward,” AHA wrote.