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Boston no longer seeing 'excess' deaths, ER doctor reports

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency-room physician at Brigham and Women's with a penchant for health policy, reported yesterday that state stats show that for the third week in a row, Boston has not had any of the "excess" deaths that started climbing as Covid-19 erupted here earlier this year.

The stat comes from looking at the total number of reported deaths this year compared to previous years. When coupled with what we know about Covid-19 rates, it's another indicator of how severely we've been hit by the virus.

The number of deaths in Boston rose above historic rates in mid-March, spiked to a peak just one week later, and then, as the effects of staying at home, widespread shutdowns of businesses and mask wearing took hold, began to drop, almost as quickly as it spiked.

Faust reports that Massachusetts excess death, which spiked to a peak about a week after Boston's, have also dropped dramatically since then, but that the state's weekly death totals are still a bit higher than numbers from previous years.


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As in previous years, the vast majority of people living in Massachusetts are not dead.

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Not dead, yet.

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If you look at the MA.gov COVID dashboard that's published every day, and extrapolate the trend on # of hospitalizations, it really looks like this thing might mostly be gone from this state by mid-July. May 13th we were at about 3000 hospitalized, yesterday we broke the sub-1000 mark for the first time since they started counting.

It's gonna be interesting if this really happens; lots of people are going to want to close things off and get back to normal ala New Zealand; not really practical though, especially with so many schools wanting to bring (out of state) students back in the fall. I also expect controversies over mask-wearing and social gatherings to really blow up if we hit 0 hospitalized -- gonna be a huge argument with abundance of caution vs. overabundance.

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It's a set of islands that can pretty strictly control who comes in from elsewhere. (Similarly for Iceland.)

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Another advantage is that their prime minister isn’t an orange idiot.

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Extrapolating the downward trend without accounting for the fact that the state has reopened to some degree is risky. It won't magically go away, the recent news that Beijing "suddenly" has cases again despite no local transmission is an example of this since they claim no local transmission since April.

Summer hasn't changed the fact that asymptomatic transmission can occur and that the majority of the population has not been infected yet and therefore is vulnerable to contracting covid.

Even if there are few hospitalizations, keeping your distance from people and wearing a mask to protect others around you will help us keep the rate of hospitalizations from taxing the local hospitals.

The reason that everyone that needed a bed and ventilator in Massachusetts got one is because hospitals entirely dedicated themselves to covid and closed to all elective care. That's not a sustainable model.

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