Page 32 - BusinessWest July 20, 2020
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Improved State
What Is Massachusetts Doing Right? And Can This Be Sustained?
By George O’Brien
In many respects, Dr. Andy Artenstein says, the COVID-19 virus acts like water in the home in that, if there are leaks, it can go
where you don’t necessarily want it to go and cause major problems.
“Water will always find a path,” Artenstein, chief physician executive and chief academic officer at Baystate Health, told BusinessWest. “But if you block off all the paths, you have a chance; it’s the same with the virus.”
With that, he worked to explain why it is that Massachusetts, more than most of the other 50 states at this particular moment in time, is seeing the number of hospitalizations and deaths stem- ming from the virus decline sharply. In short, and in his view, the residents of the Commonwealth are essentially, and somewhat effectively, block- ing off the paths the virus might take.
“We live in a society where there’s free mobil- ity — that’s one of the things we love about our society. But it’s also one of the things that puts
us at risk when there’s a transmissible agent rooted in this society,” he explained. “And this one is clearly here; it’s clearly transmitted in our community. It has not gone away; it’s just that, if viruses don’t get transmitted from person to per- son ... if the virus has nowhere to go, it puts a wall from that root of transmission. You start to block off transmission paths.”
         Dr. Andrew Artenstein says the state’s slow, cautious reopening has effectively blocked some of the paths COVID-19 might take, thus slowing transmission of the disease.
“Massachusetts and other states now doing well have been cautious in giving guidance to residents about limitations on travel and quarantining of individuals who have come from other states where there are increasing numbers of infections.”
This was Artenstein’s way of explaining why, as one looks at a map of the country charting cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the pandemic, Massachusetts is colored or tan or pink, while so many other states, especially in the South and Southwest, are dark shades of red, indicating they are hot spots.
Robert Roose, chief medical officer at Mercy Medical Center, gave essentially the same account.
“Massachusetts, along with a few of the other states here in New England, like Connecticut,
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