For Immediate Release: 2/18/2022 3:44 pm
WORCESTER – Effective at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17, Worcester rescinded its citywide regulation requiring face coverings in all indoor private common spaces in the workplace and indoor private spaces open to the public. The Worcester Board of Health approved the rescission by a 3-2 vote on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
The Board’s mask mandate for Worcester’s K-12 public, private, parochial, and charter schools will remain in place until further notice.
Furthermore, Worcester’s hospitals and healthcare facilities continue to maintain their own mask mandates, and visitors are reminded to wear face coverings and follow all posted health and safety guidelines to keep patients and medical staff safe.
As of today, Worcester is following the Massachusetts Department of Health’s ongoing mask advisory, which was updated on Feb. 15. The advisory now recommends that fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask indoors if they have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease due to age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in their household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. According to the advisory, unvaccinated residents should wear a mask or face covering when indoors and not in their own home to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others. Any other individual who wishes to continue to wear a mask is encouraged to do so.
In addition to K-12 schools and hospitals, face coverings are still required in some instances as per state and federal regulations. For example, masks must be worn at Worcester Regional Airport and on WRTA buses, the Commuter Rail, airplanes, and all means of public transportation and ride shares. Any other business, institution, or organization may also enact its own mask requirement.
The citywide mask mandate is being lifted as Worcester’s seven-day average of new positive cases falls for a fifth straight week to 55, which is its lowest point since Nov. 13. The total number of overall COVID-19-positive inpatients also declined again, with 98 patients overall and 23 in intensive care units. 513 Worcester residents have passed away due to COVID-19.
Since last Friday, 666 residents received their first vaccine dose, and an additional 714 residents are now fully vaccinated. To date, 61 percent of city residents are fully vaccinated, and 72 percent have received at least one dose. Of those fully vaccinated, 45 percent have received a booster dose, up one percent since last week and ahead of the state average by two percentage points.
In an effort to increase its vaccination and booster rates further, Worcester announced that special clinics will take place daily during school vacation week (Feb. 21 – 26). These clinics are open to all eligible individuals and will feature family activities, raffles, and gift card giveaways.
Every Worcester youth ages 5 – 17 who gets their first or second vaccine dose (primary series only) next week at one of the below clinics will be entered to win a $3,000 college scholarship.
The full schedule of clinics and prizes is as follows. People over 17 are eligible for prizes other than the scholarship, but please note dose eligibility since some prizes are for primary series doses only and not boosters due to state guidelines.
All vaccines and boosters will be available. A full schedule of weekly walk-up testing, vaccination, and booster clinics can be accessed at worcesterma.gov.