WORCESTER - Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus announced a series of new orders aimed at fighting the latest surge of COVID-19.
Augustus announced that Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh has issued a new emergency order that requires masks worn by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in all indoor, common private spaces in the City of Worcester. The order includes supermarkets and other private common spaces.
Eleven other cities in Massachusetts have the same restrictions in place, according to Augustus.
A second order by Dr. Hirsh requires employers within Worcester to report positive tests of its employees to the Worcester Board of Health.
Augustus also announced that he issued an order that requires all individuals five years of age and older to wear a mask in all city buildings or while attending indoor city events.
Both of Hirsh’s orders, and Augustus’ order, are effective on September 20.
August also announced an order requiring all city employees fully vaccinated by November 1, or provide a proof of a negative test on a weekly basis.
Augustus cited an increase in new positive cases and an increasing strain on local hospitals that motivated the new policies.
According to data cited by Augustus, the current 7-day average of new positive cases in Worcester is 78 per day. The new number of total cases increased by 510 since last week, to 26,368 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Augustus also said that on Thursday, September 9, there were 103 new positive cases reported. It was the first single day increase of over 100 since April. On Wednesday, September 15, the single day increase was 152 new positive cases.
President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care Dr. Eric Dixon cited an increase of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in central Massachusetts from seven at the end of June to 130 currently. Dixon also said that the positive test rate at the Mercantile Center was around 1 percent at the end of June. He said it now is almost 10 percent.
Dixon also said there are 70 patients waiting for hospital beds to become available in Worcester and that some emergency room visits have exceeded waiting times of ten hours.
Dixon said the Delta variant of COVID-19 is the dominant strain of the virus and transmits at a rate of four to six times more than previous strains.