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Residents share coronavirus concerns during call-in with Rep. Neal, Baystate CEO

March 18, 2020
In The News

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Residents in western Massachusetts got a chance to share their coronavirus concerns with Congressman Richard Neal and Dr. Mark Keroack, the CEO of Baystate Medical Center today.

The two opened the phone lines for people to call in.

Western Mass News also took part in that phone conference on what is on the minds of residents and the questions ranged from vaccines to financial support for families.

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

Some people were concerned about how long the virus could remain on the surface.

"It seems to last for several hours, but the concentration of virus declines fairly steadily, so while a virus does last on surfaces several hours, it’s not clear of how important it is in terms of transmission. Acquiring it through the cough or a sneeze or direct hand contact with an infected individual that’s touched their nose or mouth then shakes your hand," Dr. Keroack explained.

Others were concerned about a possible vaccine.  Dr. Keroack told Western Mass News that will take some time.

"I do know there a vaccine trials in the early stages and, but those to get a safe and effective vaccine is probably a year or more away," Dr. Keroack said.

Baystate Medical Center has been conducting COVID-19 tests and callers were told that will expand in the coming days or weeks with mobile testing sites.

"As soon as tests become available, we are going to be opening several driving centers in each of the regions that we serve so people with mild symptoms can be tested," Dr. Keroack explained.

However, what about those who are forced to stay home because their job has shut down.

During the call, Congressman Neal addressed that.

"The question is right now, it’s getting out cash support, which is something that’s going to have to be done is how difficult it is to put together what we call a cut-off and that’s part of the discussion we have had some of us have been trying to get the position to get the money to people make under $50,000 a year would probably translate more quickly to the economic support than anything else.  There are others and think that we have to raise that," Congressman Neal explained.

Baystate's CEO said they have dozens of people in the hospital in isolation right now.

A big concern for the hospital is the use of safety supplies such as masks for the staff.