By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) — WBZ-TV compiled numbers from major Boston hospitals and found 852 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 7. One week ago, the number was 398. That’s a 114% jump, which is more than double.

“That sounds low to me,” said Massachusetts Nurses Association President Donna Kelly-Williams. “The number of people that are being tested, we feel that’s a very low number, and the fact that not all the hospitals are transparent and releasing their numbers, unfortunately, what we’re seeing is that number is probably a lot higher than what you’re seeing.”

“We have to realize the resource of the healthcare workforce,” said Dr. Jon Santiago, who’s a Boston Medical center Doctor and a state representative. “I mean, if the healthcare workforce gets infected…the hospital could crash,” he said.

The numbers come in as Chuck Schumer and fellow US Senators propose hazard pay, or as they called it, “heroes pay,” for front-line workers in the coronavirus battle. Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed similar legislation, but the Kelly-Williams said that money would be better spent on protective gear, or P.P.E.

“If we don’t have the P.P.E., most of us are not going to be around to enjoy it, whatever is coming our way. That’s critical not only for the front-line but for everyone,” she said.

According to experts, it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show, which lines up with when the caseload in Massachusetts is expected to peak. That’s why Kelly-Williams said it’s especially urgent to protect front-line workers right now, more than ever.

Christina Hager

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