(NECN: Kenneth Craig, Worcester, Mass.) – The swine flu outbreak has forced areas across the country into a state a heightened alert.
Worcester, Massachusetts is no exception. But just how ready the city is remains the question.
With over 170,000 residents, it’s New England’s second largest city.
Tuesday, Worcester officials were fine-tuning a game plan.
The chance of an outbreak comes after an Asian long horned beetle infestation, a demobilizing ice storm, and as both the city and state try to balance their budgets.
Recently the city eliminated 309 Worcester city positions, 99 through layoffs.
At the Department of Public Health, a skeleton crew remains. Six of 18 staff members are still employed- 2 of those public health nurses – the state’s required minimum – who, are among other tasks, responsible for surveying and preventing spread of infectious disease in Worcester.
Public health nurses say they’re the ones responsible for detecting and treating cases of swine flu in the city.
But with just two nurses left – the task before them they say is impossible.