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COVID-19 Update for March 23; 16 Positive Cases

For Immediate Release: 3/23/2020 6:13 pm

The City of Worcester has released the following COVID-19 update for March 23:

  • There are 3 new confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the City of Worcester. There are now 16 overall confirmed positive cases in Worcester. All 16 individuals are being monitored by the Worcester Division of Public Health and are in isolation.

  • Two of the three new confirmed positive cases involve the Worcester Fire Department – one member of the recruit class and one Worcester firefighter. Both individuals are in isolation. All members of the WFD recruit class are in isolation in addition to eight instructors. Seven other Worcester firefighters associated with the positive case are also in isolation and will be tested tomorrow.

  • Earlier today Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24 at noon until Tuesday, April 7 at noon.

  • A full list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 are available online.

  • Restaurants, bars and other establishments that sell food and beverage products to the public are encouraged to continue to offer food for take-out and by delivery if they follow the social distancing protocols set forth in the Department of Public Health guidance to continue operations.

  • The Governor has also directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisory outlining self-isolation and social distancing protocols. Residents are advised to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities during this two-week period.

  • Residents over 70 years of age or with underlying health conditions, who are at high risk when exposed to COVID-19, should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.

  • The Baker-Polito Administration has also limited gatherings to 10 people during the state of emergency, a reduction from the 25 person limit established in an earlier order. Guidance of Assemblages is available online.

  • The City Manager toured the DCU Center this morning with representatives of the local healthcare community (UMass, St. Vincent’s). The DCU Center could be utilized as a satellite hospital facility for patient overflow if needed. The expected patient capacity there is 150-200.

  • City of Worcester first responders are taking advantage of priority testing that has been set up by the federal government. As of the end of the day on March 24, 70 first responders will have been tested within the Worcester Police Department and the Worcester Fire Department.

  • The application for Small Business Resiliency Grants was posted at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus this morning. The first round of applications are due this Friday, March 27 by 5 p.m. The City will then assess the volume of eligible applications received before opening up additional rounds.

  • An online platform to connect residents with “essential employers” who have critical staffing needs is live at masshirecentral.com.

  • Links to information concerning the policies of local banks during this crisis are available here.

  • Information on making donations to the Worcester Together fund set up by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Mass is available at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus.

  • Through the Worcester Senior Center, the City has made outreach to 624 seniors to date. A total of 168 outreach phone calls were made to seniors today. A total of 754 meals were delivered to seniors today in Worcester by Elder Services of Worcester Area.

  • The Worcester Public Schools feeding program provided 619 meals to local students today.

  • The City is encouraging all Worcester residents to take part in HeartWorcester, a new Worcester Public Library initiative, by posting hearts in their windows, taking a photo of them, and sharing on social media. This is a way to show that, while many people are separated and staying in their homes during this time of crisis, Worcester is still a community and the Heart of the Commonwealth. Share images on social media accounts, using the hashtag #HeartWorcester and the Worcester Public Library may post them on their social media accounts. Images may also be posted directly to the Worcester Public Library Facebook page or can be emailed to comms@mywpl.org.

  • The City of Worcester COVID-19 information line can be reached at 508-799-1019. This service is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Albanian. We have an option for individuals with positive or pending test results to speak live with a nurse, Monday through Friday 9 am to 4 pm. The line has received more than 1,200 calls on this line with more than 120 connected to a live nurse.

  • The City of Worcester COVID-19 website has received more than 51,000 views. The City's home page has received more than 44,000 views.

  • As of March 24, the 5 p.m. daily media briefings will be moved to the third floor of City Hall.

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