By Christina Hager

WORCESTER (CBS) – There was a long line outside an urgent care testing site in Worcester the day before Thanksgiving.

City leaders worry scenes like that all week are a sign of plans to gather.

“I’m suspicious that there is going to be a lot of invasion of people’s pods with new people,” said Worcester Health Director Dr. Michael Hirsh. “The consequences of that are going to be very significant.”

That’s why the city announced plans to open testing sites the week after Thanksgiving as well, and crews were inside the DCU Center on Wednesday, setting up the COVID-19 field hospital.

“The DCU Center is going to open December 6th, and I think none too soon,” said Dr. Hirsh.

The hope is to take some of the demand off hospitals like UMass Memorial Medical Center and St. Vincent Hospital.

“Just to give you a sense of the trajectory that we’ve been on,” said Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus. “The week of October 15th, there were 137 cases for the entire week. Yesterday alone, we had 142 cases one day.”

It’s not only patients who are getting positive test results back. Healthcare workers are too.

“Another 59 health workers have tested positive in the last six days in the UMass/St. Vincent system,” said Augustus.

UMass Memorial Health Care, which is running the DCU field hospital, is putting out a plea for healthcare workers to help with staffing.

“I fear that that’s going be our shortage this time,” said Dr. Hirsh. “It’s not going to be PPE and it’s not going be ventilators. It’s not going be ICU space. It’s going be healthy medical staff to take care of the patients.”

Anyone interested can go to UMassMemorialResponds.com.

Christina Hager