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Worcester mandates COVID boosters for city workers, moves meetings online

Downtown Worcester looking west on Front Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Downtown Worcester looking west on Front Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Worcester said Wednesday it plans to require city workers to either get a COVID-19 booster or submit to weekly testing to address the recent surge in cases.

In addition, the city plans to limit access to municipal buildings to 25% capacity, move all public meetings online and make the annual Martin Luther King Jr. community breakfast entirely virtual.

Worcester made the announcements after recording its highest number of daily COVID cases on Tuesday — 923 — since the pandemic began last year. And city manager Edward Augustus predicted case counts will continue to rise through at least mid-January. He also urged residents to get vaccinated, wear a mask and get tested before and after holiday gatherings.

The city also warned that the fast-spreading omicron variant made up 20% of positive cases last week and appeared to growing.

Dr. Richard Ellison, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center, said the COVID-19 surge is straining hospitals.

"We had to open up surge space into areas of the hospital that were not previously providing patient care," Ellison said. "And we're working to open up further locations in the hospital for next week."

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Carrie Jung Senior Reporter, Education
Carrie is a senior education reporter.

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