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COVID-19 Update for March 19; Fifth Positive Case

For Immediate Release: 3/19/2020 5:58 pm

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

  • As of March 19, there is 1 new positive case of COVID-19 to report in the City of Worcester. There are now 5 overall positive cases in the City of Worcester. (There are 11 positive cases in Worcester County.)

  • All 5 individuals continue to be monitored by the Worcester Division of Public Health and remain in isolation.

  • The City will begin a sheltering program for the adult homeless population starting Friday, March 20.

  • The goal for this program is to provide a safe and healthy environment for one of our most vulnerable populations. This is an increased effort to comply with the guidelines and practice appropriate social distancing.

  • The City is also working with local hospitals to identify applicable locations should emergency rooms and hospitals become overcrowded.

  • Two sites will be up and running this weekend: North High School Gymnasium at 150 Harrington Way will be online Friday, March 20; Worcester Technical High School at 1 Skyline Drive will be online Saturday, March 21.

  • Two additional sites will come online next week: Ascension Church at 44 Vernon Street and St. John’s Church at 44 Temple Street.

  • The state guidance of no more than 25 individuals will be maintained and the ongoing needs of the community will continue to be assessed. (Total of 100 capacity at the four sites combined).

  • Each site will have security, a Worcester Police Department presence, food distribution, City representation and medical personnel. These will be 24-hour a day operations and include three shifts.

  • The City is partnering with Richie Gonzalez (Net of Compassion and Hotel Grace), to coordinate management and staffing of each shelter.

  • Staffing models will be established for each location and we are partnering with the Worcester Public Schools on maintenance and access.

  • Each site has proper shower capabilities – the City is sourcing for remote showers for both Ascension Church and St. John’s Church.

  • Food will be provided seven days a week through the school nutrition program and St. John’s Food for the Poor.

  • Volunteers will provide daily activities at the shelters in accordance with the 25 person capacity guidelines.

  • SMOC shelter at 25 Queen Street will serve as the main entry point for sheltering.

  • SMOC and the WPS/Durham will provide transportation from Queen Street to the satellite locations.

  • The City has also announced a Small Business Resiliency Grant Program to help those businesses affected by this crisis.

  • Through HUD Community Development Block Grant funding, a total of $500,000 will be provided with a $10,000 max per business.

  • Eligible applicants include business owners who have a low-to moderate income status; a physical location within the City of Worcester; experienced a loss of revenue of 50% or more due to COVID-19 since March 10; have less than $2M in gross receipts.

  • Funding is limited, but the City is hoping to provide some relief for at least 50 businesses that are significantly vulnerable.

  • We hope to recapitalize the program and expand eligibility if additional CDBG funds are part of the federal stimulus efforts.

  • The application form will be live at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus starting Monday, March 23, with instructions for submission.

  • Spanish, Vietnamese and Albanian speakers on staff will be available for assistance with language barriers.

  • Worcester Together has already raised $1.7M since its inception this week.

  • Both the City and the Worcester Police Department would like to remind everyone that restaurants and bars are prohibited from serving food and drinks for on-premises consumption due to the ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19.

  • On March 18, the Worcester Police Department Alcohol Enforcement Unit observed that the Vintage Grille at 346 Shrewsbury Street was open for business with numerous patrons consuming food and drinks.

  • An officer applied for a criminal complaint and the incident will be referred to the License Commission and Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission for further sanctions.

  • ALL City playgrounds remain closed to the public at this time. Public signage with this information has been posted at all playgrounds. Our open spaces (fields, greenspace) remain available for use.

  • The AlertWorcester emergency communications system has seen a marked uptick in subscriptions. Since March 9, an additional 953 households have signed up for the service in addition to 776 new text subscribers and 325 new email subscribers. City residents are encouraged to sign up for this service here.

  • The COVID-19 information line can be reached at 508-799-1019. This service is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Albanian. Individuals with positive or pending test results can speak live with a nurse, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since launch, the information line has received nearly 700 calls.

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