WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - City officials are taking action as coronavirus cases continue to surge in Worcester.

In the past week, the city has seen more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases, including 923 new infections on Tuesday.

Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsch says about 45 percent of those cases are the omicron variant.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves and we know that we’re in the teeth of a really, really big surge,” he said, “a bigger surge than we’ve ever seen before.”

The stakes are high for area hospitals, where people have been waiting weeks for emergency room and intensive care unit beds.

“We have never been as busy at UMass in my 30 years as we have been in the last month,” said Dr. Richard Ellison, infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. has signed an executive order to address the rising case count and hospital strain.

As part of the executive order, all city employees must receive a booster shot within 14 days of becoming eligible beginning Feb. 1.

Those who are not boosted in the timeframe must enter the weekly testing protocol.

Worcester public schools are implementing similar changes for staff and faculty, city officials said.

“84% of City employees and 73% of School employees are now currently vaccinated; however, there are currently at least 41 positive cases with dozens more tests pending due to possible exposures,” the city wrote in a press release. “The booster will help mitigate further spread and illness.”

Additionally, public capacity inside all municipal buildings is being limited to 25 percent, with building monitors being employed to help enforce that capacity as well as the city’s mask mandate.

At the Worcester Public Library, long lines of people waited to get vaccinated with more than 90 percent of them getting booster shots.

Former Army medic John Hood was one of the people who got their booster shot at the library.

“I’m glad to have it,” he said. “I think more people should understand that they should be vaccinated.”

With New Year’s Eve celebrations planned for the weekend, Worcester Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Matilde Castiel say they’re happy to see people coming out to get their booster and hope people take the necessary precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“That’s why we’re also giving out free COVID test kits for people so that they can test and test any other family members that are coming in so that everyone remains safe,” she said.

The city was recently allotted 135,540 rapid antigen COVID-19 tests from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and has since distributed 100,000 of those tests.

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