SPRINGFIELD — While acknowledging that COVID cases are rising across the region, Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack predicted that the current surge would not be as serious as those that have preceded it.
“I think the virus is running out of targets that are completely unprotected at this point,” said Keroack during a Zoom press conference with area media members on Tuesday, adding that he is projecting a “slow, low-level simmer” for the upcoming summer.
Keroack touched on a broad range of subjects during the press briefing — from the ongoing workforce challenges facing the Baystate system (and all healthcare providers) to the financial impact of COVID on the system, which was $75 million off its budget projections for the first two months of the year.
But the main focus was COVID and the latest surge, which has been marked by a rise in cases, but not hospitalizations.
“There has been this disconnect between the case numbers and the hospital numbers,” he explained, noting that there are 50 people hospitalized with COVID across the Baystate system’s four hospitals. By contrast, in January, the system was often exceeded 300 COVID-related hospitalizations.
And those who are hospitalized are experiencing less-severe symptoms than those infected with previous strains.
“There is a lot of virus out there, but it’s not causing nearly as much serious disease among our patients,” said Keroack, noting that of those hospitalized, roughly half came in for something else and COVID was later discovered through testing.