As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Worcester, Massachusetts, officials are preparing to reopen the field hospital at the DCU Center.
"Our trends are not positive, and Worcester is not in a good place right now, as it relates to COVID cases," said Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus.
Augustus is trying to get the message through to people that the number of positive coronavirus cases in the city and surrounding communities are definitely moving in the wrong direction.
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And it's having a significant impact on the city's hospitals.
"Another 59 health workers have tested positive in the last six days in the UMass/Saint Vincent system," said Augustus.
As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to soar and the city prepares to reopen the DCU Center as a field hospital for lower-level in-patient coronavirus treatment, the community faces a different type of shortage than in the spring, which could overwhelm the system.
"It's not going to be PPE and it's not going to be ventilators, it's not going to be ICU space, it's going to be healthy medical staff to take care of the patients," said Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh.
Hirsh says while community health centers are helping to take some of the pressure off the hospitals, the testing levels and positivity rate in the community are getting so high, the health care system is being impacted at every level.
"Primary care docs are overwhelmed, they just can't handle this load, and so it's the urgent care centers and the emergency rooms, unfortunately, that are doing a lot of the evaluation of symptomatic people," said Hirsh.
City officials say medical experts predict case numbers will continue to rise between now and Christmas.
"The surge is probably coming, probably in the next week or two," said Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty. "We're not even at the high point yet."
The DCU Center is scheduled to reopen as a field hospital by Dec. 6.