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Scripps Health Says If Restrictions Weren’t Relaxed Last Summer, 45 Lives Could Have Been Saved

Inside the Intensive Care Unit of a Scripps hospital in this undated photo.

Credit: Scripps Health

Above: Inside the Intensive Care Unit of a Scripps hospital in this undated photo.

Scripps Health officials working with Columbia University scientists estimate if some restrictions were not lifted for businesses last summer, they would not have seen an increase in hospitalizations that lead to at least 45 deaths.

"If it hadn't been for that reopening, if it hadn't been for the relaxation of social distancing and increased capacity of indoor gatherings we feel confident those 400 hospitalizations would not have occurred and those 45 people may not have died," said Nathaniel Brown, director of health data sciences at Scripps Health.

Researchers focused on a 25-day reopening that started June 12, where gyms, bars, hotels, card rooms and other businesses were approved to open with restrictions. Brown said thousands of simulations using statistical modeling were run to reach their conclusion.

"So, we look at how populations flow through phases of being susceptible to having COVID-19, to being exposed, to being infected, to being recovered," he said.

The study looked at data from patients at five Scripps hospital campuses.

We can only say what we know. One could speculate it could be even larger if you were to run this through the whole county, the whole state or the whole community," Brown said.

With spring break now here for many and news from state health officials that starting April 15 indoor venues like movie theatres and convention centers can increase capacity if people are vaccinated or have proof of a recent negative test, Scripps officials say people still need to be vigilant.

"Our message here really is that we need to continue to do what we’ve been doing to save lives," said Barbara Price, senior vice president of strategy and planning at Scripps Health. "Those things are the things that we know work, this study proved they work."

Scripps officials are working to publish the study, a process likely still a couple months away.

"The simple choice of wearing a mask and deciding not to go out, staying home, that makes all the difference in the world," Brown said.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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