WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester health leaders are urging masking, vaccination and other precautions as cases of the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 rise. 

They are also urging residents to take precautions to stay safe, avoid surges and prevent further strain on local and regional hospital systems. 

The city is experiencing a rise in cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus. RSV is contributing to a current spike in hospital visits, especially for children.  It's also the reason for some school absences. The common respiratory virus usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Last week, Worcester medical director Dr. Michael Hirsh said at least three patients in their pediatric ICU have RSV.

"It's a real phenomenon," Hirsh said. "It's the kind of thing that keeps us up at night with worries if we are exceeding our capacities. For central Massachusetts as it's currently laid out, we only have 10 ICU beds for the entire region."

While RSV is most common in children, it can easily be spread to adults, especially people with weak immune systems.