Worcester's Top Doc Worried by Increase in COVID Patients at Its Hospitals

And he said coronavirus positivity rates are multiplying at the city’s health centers, too

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Worcester's medical director says he's seeing an alarming increase in coronavirus hospitalizations at the city's two hospitals.

“Just two weeks ago, there were barely 20 in-patients. That rose to about 30 last week, and now it’s standing at about 46 between the two institutions,” Dr. Michael Hirsh said. 

That’s a 50% increase over the past week, and more than double the number of COVID patients between UMass Memorial Medical Center and Saint Vincent Hospital from just two weeks ago.

“Over last weekend, my whole entire unit was positive patients, so we are definitely seeing that increase and feeling that,” said UMass Nurse Manager Lori Peasley-Landine.

The patients they’re treating now are younger than in the spring, generally in their 20s, 30s and 40s, she said.

“It’s real. I mean, if you’re not wearing a mask and you’re not doing precautions, then you’re going to have one of you or your loved ones become ill,” Peasley-Landine said.

Much of the discussion around Covid-19 has involved the most serious cases in older and immunocompromised people. But even young, healthy people with so-called mild cases can experience serious symptoms with unknown, long-term consequences. Dr. Gregory Poland, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, explains why even young people need to take coronavirus seriously.

Hirsh said coronavirus positivity rates are multiplying at the city’s health centers, too, with a third of the people tested last week at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center testing positive.

“That’s a very staggeringly high number,” said Hirsh, “and indicates the level of community spread that is out there.”

That’s why people need to take the governor’s orders seriously, he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a stay-at-home advisory and mask order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“I don’t want this to be something that-- you have your secret Thanksgiving dinner despite all of our warnings,” said Hirsh, “you end up having some sick people in your family.”

Just as in the spring, the hospitals do have emergency plans in place to increase the number of beds available for COVID patients if needed.

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