WORCESTER - Outside the UMass Memorial Medical Center Emergency Department every ambulance bay is full. Inside, three patients wait on stretchers by the door to be assessed while others line the walls waiting for a room.
Staff at the Worcester hospital say the influx of patient has become the new norm and the situation is exacerbated by the latest wave of COVID-19 infections.
Darren Brock is a Lieutenant for Worcester EMS. He says paramedics routinely wait 20 minutes at the hospital for their patients to be assessed.
"And that's due to the number of patients, the lack of staffing. It's just a perfect storm of things going on right now," Brock said.
Last week, officials urged Worcester residents to wear masks indoors as the seven-day daily average case count steadily climbed to 128.9, the highest point since February. Hospitalizations have also increased to 72 COVID-19 positive inpatients and 11 in intensive care.
The increase in COVID infections is very apparent at UMass's COVID Treatment Center which administers intravenous and oral COVID drugs. The center opened last July and has treated 8,000 patients since then. Two thousand of those patients were treated in the last five weeks.
"It's been relentless," said Dr. Sandeep Jubbal, an infectious disease physician who works at the Center.
Jubbal is hoping the public will overcome its fatigue to help the hospital system.
"As we joke around, we have declared eight victories, the U.S. has declared eight victories over COVID so far. Every time we see a downtrend, we relax the mask mandates and we see a surge back up again," he said. "Especially if you're indoors or traveling, please consider wearing masks."
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