SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Health hosted a news briefing on Thursday to discuss the state of the pandemic in western Massachusetts.

Dr. Keroack says the peak of this current surge is looking to be the second week of January when looking at the current trend. He says right now in the hospital, 66 percent of COVID patients are unvaccinated and the other third are breakthrough cases.

When it comes to hospital capacity, they are at their limit. They have 988 beds available but Wednesday they had over a 1,000 in-patients. That’s leaving their staff strained. They say that one in five healthcare workers have left in the state and they currently have 1,800 job openings, but they are hiring around 150 new employees each week.

Despite Massachusetts being in the top 5 most vaccinated states, Hampden County has the lowest full COVID vaccination rate in the state at only 59 percent which will lead to higher rates of COVID infection.

“We’ve been routinely averaging about 10 percent over our license bed capacity over the last six to eight weeks.” Dr Mark Keroack, Baystate Health President and CEO

When it comes to upcoming holiday gatherings, Dr. Keroack recommends unvaccinated people testing before they attend. Additionally, he believes Governor Baker should reinstate a mask mandate in the state. He says the omicron variant hasn’t been found in western Massachusetts yet but he recommends masking up, social distancing, being in spaces that are well ventilated and of course getting vaccinated as a way to reduce spread.