Assessing six months of pandemic response in Massachusetts

Massachusetts was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, but a quick ramp-up of testing helped prevent the virus from spiraling too much out of control, according to Stephen Kissler of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a September 10, 2020 WBUR interview, Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, discussed the past six months of coronavirus response in the state as well as what to expect in the next six.

He said that reopening more businesses and institutions in the state is “a responsible thing to do as long as we are testing as much as we can, and as long as we have very clear guidelines for when we should stop and when we should reverse course.” He said that the state has developed guidelines for reopening, “but as far as I can tell, there are fewer clear guidelines about what we should do if cases start to rise again.”

Looking ahead, Kissler said he’s concerned about a possible autumn or winter resurgence of the virus as schools reopen and people spend more time indoors. “It’s something that a responsible society ought to be preparing for,” he said.

Still, he expects that some vaccines will become available in the spring and will begin to be rolled out to health care workers and others at high risk of infection. “It won’t spell the end of the pandemic,” he said, “but I think the outlook is hopeful.”

Listen to the WBUR interview: It’s Been 6 Months Since Mass. Declared Coronavirus State Of Emergency