UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester saw about one employee test positive for coronavirus each week in the spring. Recently, that number spiked to as many as four per day, according to Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh.
The total number of healthcare workers in the city who tested positive between UMass and Saint Vincent Hospital climbed by up 24 over the past week. The total of workers who have tested positive for COVID at the two hospital systems is now at 503 since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s probably because the people coming into the hospital are more frequently positive even if they don’t realize it but it’s also because some of the hospital workers are just experiencing some of the same fatigue that everyone is,” Hirsh said.
The spike inside Worcester’s hospital reflected the same trend within the city as new cases increased for the 12th time in the last 14 weeks.
On Thursday, City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said the city saw 236 new cases this week, up 45 from last week. On Monday, alone the city saw 52 new cases of coronavirus.
Overall, the city has experienced 7,114 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
“We are now in the 7th consecutive week in the red zone with no end in sight,” Augustus said.
Municipalities that average more than 8 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people are deemed to be in the red zone or high risk.
“Everybody is poised to see if this surge results in more hospitalizations,” Hirsh said. “The hope is that we can get a handle on this with better vigilance and more people sticking to the three Ws we keep talking about: washing your hands, watching your distance and wearing your mask.”
Augustus said about two-thirds of the new cases were deemed “community spread,” which means they were tied to no particular cluster, event or place.
“The fact that we do have community spread going on, it should be a wake up call to all of us to really redouble our efforts and be very thoughtful and mindful about how close we are to other individuals,” Augustus said.
Three more Worcester residents died since last week’s memorial where the city laid out 296 roses representing each one of the lives lost to COVID.
Overall, Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care have reported 388 total deaths.
For the third consecutive week, Augustus stressed the virus knows no age limits and can infect young people.
Of the new 236 cases, 108 or 46% are under 30 years old. Only 57 cases were over 50 years old.
“Again, it’s to suggest that if you’re young it doesn’t mean you can’t be picking up this virus,” Augustus said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have any long term health consequences.”
However, Augustus also pointed out that 90% of the cases the city has experienced since college students returned involved non-students.
Still, Augustus commented on a cluster at Assumption University where 20 cases have occurred on campus.
Assumption will enter a lockdown on Friday asking students to shelter in place to prevent further spread of the virus.
“We appreciate their continued partnership with the city in trying to make sure they protect their campus community as well as our community at large,” Augustus said.