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COVID-19 Update for March 18; Fourth Positive Case

For Immediate Release: 3/18/2020 6:28 pm

The City of Worcester has released the following COVID-19 update for March 18:

  • As of March 18, there is 1 new positive case of COVID-19 in the City of Worcester. There are now 4 overall positive cases.

  • All 4 individuals are being monitored by the Worcester Division of Public Health and remain in isolation.

  • There is 1 person under investigation by the Worcester Division of Public with test results still pending.

  • The City's Communications Center (9-1-1 and dispatch) was split into two sites and a third site is being planned. Additional dispatchers are also being trained.

  • As of March 18, all city buildings are now closed to the public until further notice. Full directions on how to conduct City business functions, contact City departments, and participate in public meetings is all available on our website.

  • Under the emergency declaration the City Manager ordered on March 15 and as requested by the City Council, the City has decided to delay the implementation of a ban on single-use plastic bags for 90 days. The ban was scheduled to go into effect on April 1 and will now not be in effect until July 1.

  • This will give businesses impacted by this crisis more time to adapt to this new change. It is also in the best interest of safety not to introduce more reusable bags into circulation right now which could help spread the COVID-19 virus. There is evidence that viruses and bacteria can survive on reusable bags for up to 9 days.

  • The City has announced the formation of Worcester Together, a partnership between the City, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Massachusetts. This partnership will help fund local relief efforts for COVID-19.

  • It will combine the efforts of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund (for long-term recovery) and the United Way’s COVID-19 We Care Fund (for immediate, basic needs).

  • The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, seeded with $535,000, will serve the interim and long-term needs of groups working with people impacted by the virus. Donations can be made online at greaterworcester.org. Groups seeking assistance can also contact the Foundation directly through this website as well.

  • The United Way’s COVID-19 We Care Fund, seeded with $100,000, will provide a safety net for those hardest hit by COVID-19 in our community. To donate, please visit unitedwaycm.org.

  • Information on how to donate to both of these funds is available here.

  • The City and its MassHire Career Center are working closely with state partners to assist people and companies affected economically by the outbreak.

  • An expedited unemployment process has been implemented for claimants, and although the Career Center facility is closed, staff are still providing services remotely. Information for claimants and businesses is posted on the City website.

  • The City is working locally on the creation of a workforce matching tool to help connect those in good health looking for work with our local employers, including health care providers that have a critical shortage of staff needed to continue operations. This worker connection program will also be tapped as a way to help provide services to the most vulnerable among us, such as the elderly, that are not able to venture out to shop for themselves or access school meal programs.

  • Anyone that needs to file an unemployment claim should do so by using the online system (mass.gov/dua) as there will likely be delays for the phone system while the Department of Unemployment Assistance ramps up its remote call center. The City is assisting the department with staffing the remote call center with employees from the Career Center that are being temporarily reassigned.

  • Information on unemployment assistance has been added to the COVID-19 page on the city website at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus.

  • The Worcester Fire Department academy has been postponed until further notice. As an update to that, the recruits will be kept on the City payroll to assist with emergency operations as necessary (setting up shelter beds, etc.).

  • Regular WFD inspections of smoke detectors for home sales will continue as usual.

  • Worcester Police Department cruisers are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the beginning and end of every shift, and our officers are following universal precautions and attempting to limit personal contact.

  • In addition, the Worcester Police will continue to answer all emergency calls.

  • For certain non-emergency calls, the Communications division will put the caller in touch with an officer to take a report over the phone. The non-emergency line is 508-799-8606.

  • Although the police lobby is open, please do not come in if your situation could be handled over the phone.

  • The License Division is closed to in-person visits. They can be reached by phone at 508-799-8648.

  • DPW walk-in service is closed. The Customer Service Center will still be available remotely by calling 508-929-1300 or by e-mailing dpw@worcesterma.gov.

  • Service requests can also be submitted using the online system at worcesterma.gov/customer-service. Trash and recycling services are on schedule.

  • Worcester drinking water is safe and unaffected by COVID-19. Worcester’s drinking water comes from well-protected reservoirs and is treated using ozone and chlorine, both powerful disinfectants that destroy viruses like COVID-19. Worcester area residents who get their water from the City of Worcester public water system should NOT be concerned about the safety of their tap water.

  • The Green Hill Park Farm and all playgrounds and are closed until further notice. City parks and open spaces remain open.

  • 1,390 meals were delivered to the senior community on March 18 by Meals on Wheels.

  • Of 600 registered seniors at the Worcester Senior Center, we've reached out to 150 of them today for wellness checks.

  • The City will continue to make these daily calls to support the ongoing needs of seniors and connect them to the appropriate services.

  • Our cultural community is coming together to ensure that physical isolation does not lead to social isolation. Many of our local performers and entertainers have utilized social media to perform live shows and we encourage our community to log on, seek them out and support them however they are able.
  • In addition to these efforts, the Worcester Cultural Coalition is encouraging people to send videos and photos that can uplift, encourage and foster creativity to culture@worcesterma.gov. Some examples could be reading books for children, hosting virtual tours, and past performances that have been recorded to be redistributed.

  • The Cultural Coalition plans to host and circulate this creative outpouring of content in an effort to keep spirits high and sustain our community spirit. This will also provide an online educational vehicle for our school children and their families to enjoy while they are at home.
  • Our COVID-19 information line can be reached at 508-799-1019. This service is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and, beginning March 18, Albanian. Starting Thursday, March 19, there will be an option for individuals with positive or pending test results to speak with a nurse in DPH, Monday through Friday 9 am to 4 pm.

City of Worcester
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7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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