Worcester urges residents to wear masks amid growing threat of triple outbreak – NBC Boston

With the onset of the current flu season, along with an increase in RSV and the potential for a winter spike in COVID-19, Worcester officials are urging residents to wear masks and get vaccinated to avoid surges and prevent additional strain on area hospitals.

“As flu season begins, Worcester is also experiencing an unusual increase in respiratory syncytial virus cases,” Worcester officials said in a statement Monday. “Combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, city health officials are urging residents to take precautions to stay safe, avoid power surges, and avoid further strain on local and regional hospital systems. »

Given the risk to children and the potential for spread in schools and daycares, health officials strongly recommend mask-wearing for children at least two years old, as well as for family members, caregivers and anyone else in close contact with infants and other high-risk people. individuals at risk. Children with symptoms of respiratory illness or fever are asked to stay home until these symptoms resolve.

“Face coverings are also recommended for all residents in and around others, and in crowded outdoor public spaces and events to reduce the risk of influenza and COVID-19,” the city statement continues. .

What preventive measures can you take to avoid RSV? The CDC recommends washing your hands and avoiding close contact with others.

RSV is one of three respiratory infections currently causing health problems. The others are the flu and COVID-19, sort of creating a triple threat.

Flu season usually peaks between December and February, but can last until May. The flu is expected to be more common this year as precautions taken during the pandemic, such as mask requirements, have disappeared. Additionally, people are spending more time indoors as the weather gets colder, which officials say raises the stakes for the spread of COVID and the flu.

In addition to wearing masks, Worcester officials are encouraging residents to get both a dose of flu and COVID-19 vaccine.

This season’s flu vaccine is now available at most pharmacies. Locations can be found at vaccines.gov/flu.

Cases of RSV have increased, overwhelming pediatric hospitals in some parts of the country. Flu and COVID are also a seasonal threat.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are also available at area pharmacies, as well as the following free weekly clinics across the city:

  • Central Community Branch YMCA, 766 Main Street: Mondays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • UMass Memorial Health Mercantile Center Clinic, 100 Front St.: Mondays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square: Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • AIDS Project Worcester, 165 Southbridge St.: Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Through Dec. 19, anyone who receives a dose at the YMCA Clinic on Monday or the Worcester Public Library Clinic on Saturday will receive a $75 gift card courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, while stocks last.

A full schedule of vaccination and booster clinics around Worcester is available at worceterma.gov/coronavirus/vaccination.

Some Worcester residents who spoke with NBC10 Boston on Monday seemed reluctant to go back to masking, but Dr. Michael Hirsh, the city’s medical director, urged people to think about it.

“It’s a small price to pay to be safer,” he said.

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