For Immediate Release: 3/4/2022 9:09 pm
WORCESTER – Dropping for seven consecutive weeks, the city’s seven-day average of new positive COVID-19 cases now stands at 25.6, which is its lowest point since mid-August.
In addition, Worcester hospitals’ total number of COVID-19-positive inpatients fell further to 31 overall, with eight in intensive care units. Six Worcester residents passed away in the past week due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 520 deaths since the pandemic began.
In the nearby towns of Shrewsbury and Grafton, the seven-day averages of new positive cases are 4.7 and 2.1, respectively.
Worcester County is now classified in the Low COVID-19 Community Level. Under this designation, the CDC advises residents to stay up to date with their vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
To date, 62 percent of city residents are fully vaccinated, up from 61 last week, while 73 percent have received at least one dose. Of those fully vaccinated, 46 percent have now received a booster dose.
The city ended February on a positive note by administering 290 total doses at its public equity clinics during school vacation week, the highest number in three weeks. The winner of the $3,000 college scholarship that was part of the school vacation clinic promotion will be announced soon, and upcoming school-based clinics are currently being planned.
Over 230 additional doses were provided at clinics hosted by the city in February for students, staff, and residents at local colleges, businesses, and nursing homes. These on-site clinics continue to be an effective means of vaccinating Worcester’s workforce, students, and high-risk populations, and organizations are encouraged to reach out to the city if they would like to set one up.
According to the latest data from the Massachusetts Department of Health, during the two-month peak of the Omicron variant from December to February, Worcester steadily increased its rate of administering first and second doses. First dose rates increased seven percent (compared to five perfect statewide), and fully vaccinated rates increased five percent (four percent statewide). After climbing throughout December, booster rates saw a slight drop-off.
City officials praised the increased vaccine uptake, but they reiterated that boosters offer the best protection again Omicron and future variants. Following the release of the UMass Memorial Health Mercantile Center clinic schedule, the full lineup of standing clinics open to anyone eligible ages five and up is as follows:
Central Community Branch YMCA (766 Main Street)
Mondays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Worcester Public Library (3 Salem Street)
Wednesdays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Worcester Senior Center (125 Providence Street)
Fridays, 12 – 8 p.m.
Mercantile Center (201 Commercial Street)
(through Mar. 18)
Mondays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (plus testing)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (plus testing)
Fridays, 12 – 3 p.m.
(as of Mar. 21)
Mondays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (plus testing)
Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (plus testing)
A full schedule, including the Health and Human Service mobile van clinic stops, can be found at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus/vaccination.
Today, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced that it will downsize its “Stop the Spread” testing operation to 11 sites across the state, effective Apr. 1. Those 11 sites include the UMass Memorial Health Mercantile Center clinic and have accounted for nearly 72 percent of all Stop the Spread testing volume. Further scheduling details will be shared once they are available, but this update means the Mercantile Center testing site will remain open through at least May 15.
Worcester continues to follow masking guidelines set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Health state mask advisory, which no longer mandates face coverings on school buses or vans for K-12 schools and child care programs and public outdoors at transportation settings.
One Feb. 28, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education lifted its statewide mask mandate for public schools. However, masks are still required in Worcester’s K-12 public, private, parochial, and charter schools as per the city’s Board of Health regulation. The Board plans to consider rescinding that mandate at its next meeting on Monday, Mar. 7.
Additionally, masks are requires at Worcester hospitals and Worcester Regional Airport, as well as 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, and any individual who would like to wear a mask is encouraged to do so.