Virus Outbreak Massachusetts

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard erect a medical field hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester in April.

A 240-bed field hospital will be reestablished at the DCU Center in Worcester and is expected to be operational, if needed, by the first week in December, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday as case counts continue to climb.

Baker said the 661 patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday is more than double the 178 hospitalizations as of Labor Day, and that case growth and hospitalization trends have been heading in the wrong direction since the end of summer.

"We've learned a lot about this virus since last spring, but we still have a long way to go, and at the end of the day, the tools we put together only go so far," Baker said. "We can only set up so many extra beds. Every single person in Massachusetts needs to appreciate their role in dealing with the spread of this virus."

Along with the DCU Center facility, Baker said hospitals are able to make available about 400 additional beds on their own, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is continuing to discuss other potential field hospital sites. He said more than 700 patients were served at field hospitals in Boston and Worcester over the spring, and three other sites that were set up were ultimately not used.

The governor said there is a "growing base of evidence" nationally that the uptick in cases and hospitalizations is driven in large part by "what I would call the individual acts of many people engaged in familiar activity, on a casual basis, with people they're familiar with."

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is — and I know it sounds like I'm lecturing, and I probably am — but how important it is for people to truly wrap their head around this concept that the innocent act of small gatherings is where COVID is finding its greatest opportunities to spread," he said.