Massachusetts Coronavirus Hospital Beds Figures Finally Public — Show Plateau

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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has repeatedly said he and his advisers are looking at certain key metrics to determine when to reopen the state’s economy.

“What I would say is that everybody has said you need to see downward trends. Downward trends,” Baker said during a coronavirus press conference Tuesday, April 28. “We don’t have – on one of the key measures, one of the ones I pay the most attention to, and I know most of the folks who are part of our team pay attention to, which is hospitalizations for COVID-19, and ICU use for COVID-19 — yes, it’s flattened out. But we have not seen a downward trend there. And that’s a really important measure about what’s going on out there in the community generally.”

So how many hospital beds in Massachusetts have been dedicated to coronavirus patients this month?

Those numbers were hard to come by before today.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health published most of the data Tuesday, April 28 — 12 days after New Boston Post first requested it.

The data, featured in a daily update from the Massachusetts Department of Health, shows the amount of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state has remained largely stable over the past week.

As of Monday, April 20, there were 3,872 coronavirus patients hospitalized, and on Monday, April 27, there were 3,875. In the days between, the number of hospitalizations for the virus increased three times and decreased three times, but each time by a relatively amount.

The biggest jump in hospitalizations came on Monday, April 13, when the total increased by 931 patients to 3,485. Prior to that, the chart had been steadily climbing. On Saturday, April 4, there were 1,370 hospitalized in the Bay State with the virus. However, that number continued to grow and exceeded 2,500 cases on Saturday, April 11.


The curve of hospitalizations because of coronavirus has flattened in recent days. Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Tuesday, April 28, 2020.


Twelve days ago, on Thursday, April 16, New Boston Post requested a breakdown of the number of hospital beds that were being used by Massachusetts hospitals for coronavirus patients day by day from April 1 forward. The idea was to see if there are trends in the number of coronavirus patients seeking care at a hospital.

The state Department of Public Health initially provided a hospital-by-hospital breakdown of the number of coronavirus patients occupying beds on Wednesday, April 15 that did not provide a cumulative total. However, New Boston Post added the numbers up and found that there were 3,568 people hospitalized who were suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus, including intensive care units; with revised totals, the number on April 15 is now marked as 3,637 cases. Statewide, there are 15,193 hospital beds available in Massachusetts, according to the American Hospital Directory.

As of yesterday, only the numbers from April 15, April 16, and April 17 were available on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s web site.

New Boston Post made repeated requests during the past 12 days for data from the beginning of the month forward. Spokesmen for the state’s public health agency declined to provide the data or say why they weren’t providing it or even say whether the requests were being denied. The most recent request, on Monday, April 27, drew a suggestion that New Boston Post make a formal public records request, which was made the same day.

This is not the first time the state’s public health agency has limited public access to coronoavirus information. In late March, state health officials urged cities and towns to not release the number of coronavirus patients in their respective communities. A few weeks later, in mid-April, the state Department of Public Health shifted course and began releasing town-by-town coronavirus figures once a week going forward (but not backward from the first date of release).

The press office for Governor Charlie Baker could not be reached for comment.