For Immediate Release: 1/14/2022 4:29 pm
To date, there have been 45,065 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the City of Worcester. That represents an increase of 6,723 cases from the City’s last report Wednesday, Jan. 5, which was 38,342. It represents an increase of 4,786 since last Friday, when the total was 40,279. The actual total is suspected to be higher due to at-home tests, which are not reflected in the total count.
A total of 413 new positive tests were added since yesterday.
The City’s seven-day average as of Friday, Jan. 14 is 683.71, down from 837 on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
At the City’s previous peak during last winter’s surge, there was an average of about 195 cases per day. Until last week, the City had only two days of at least 300 new cases since the pandemic started. There have now been more than 300 new cases for 11 straight days.
Positive case counts in surrounding towns as of yesterday: Shrewsbury: 6,084 (+629 from last week); Grafton: 2,636 (+274 from last week).
To date, 482 Worcester residents have died due to COVID-19, an increase of 4 from last week.
All combined medical facilities of Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care had 349 total COVID-positive in-patients (+91 from last week) and 60 total COVID-positive ICU patients (+3 from last week). To date, their facilities have had a total of 952 COVID-related deaths (+28 from last week).
The strain on Worcester hospitals has been significant, and the best way to support medical professionals is to get vaccinated and boosted when eligible, wear a mask in public spaces and when around unvaccinated individuals, and follow social distancing whenever possible.
Free, walk-up testing remains available four days a week at the Mercantile Center through UMass Memorial Health Care on Mondays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to Noon; and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The clinic will be closed Monday, Jan. 17 in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Because of demand and staffing, you may encounter long lines and lengthy wait times. In addition to testing, vaccines are available at this clinic every Friday, 12-3 p.m.
The City is working help address the long waits, including the distribution of rapid antigen home testing kits. Through Mass DPH, the City initially received more than 67,000 kits (each containing 2 tests) for distribution. City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. since authorized the purchase of an additional 30,000 testing kits, a total of 60,000 tests. Once received, those kits will be issued to the United Way and the Worcester Together working group for distribution to nonprofit agencies and community organizations serving those hardest hit by the pandemic who might not otherwise have access to testing. In total that will amount to nearly 200,000 tests in the hands of our residents.
Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced that the state will be receiving about 26 million rapid COVID antigen tests over the next few month intended for schools and childcare, some number of which are expected to be allocated to the Worcester Public Schools and local childcare settings.
The City was recently made aware of a testing site at 1 Rice Square adjacent to Grafton Street calling themselves the Center for COVID Control. The organization has locations throughout the country that have been the subject of controversy, garnering complaints about incomplete and inaccurate test results. The Division of Inspectional Services visited the site this week to observe the organization’s use of the space and the Division of Public Health, responding to complaints from residents, contacted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for guidance. Upon investigation, it was determined that they were operating in Worcester without the necessary state permit and that the lab associated with the operation based in Chicago in not registered with the state of Massachusetts. MDPH has issued a Cease & Desist Order that requires the Center for COVID Control to immediately stop providing all services that require clinical laboratory licensure by MDPH. The Order also impacts sites in Needham and North Dartmouth. Inspectional Services will continue to monitor the site in Worcester and enforce the Order. Individuals looking for legitimate testing locations outside of the Mercantile Center and local pharmacies should visit www.mass.gov-covid-19-testing.
Among City employees, 84.45 percent are fully vaccinated, and 72.21 percent of Worcester Public School staff are fully vaccinated. There are at least 129 positive cases among City staff (six more positive cases than last week), with 36 tests pending. Employees who are now eligible for their booster shot are beginning to upload proof of their booster shots as of this week, and have until Feb. 1 to upload proof. The Worcester Fire Department has 20 positive members, eight pending results and 20 out of work in quarantine. Fourteen members have tested positive on the rapid tests when reporting for work, preventing the exposure of over 100 firefighters. In total, 108 employees in the Worcester Fire Department have contracted COVID-19 in the last 30 days, which represents 28 percent of the entire department. The Worcester Police Department has 54 active cases (36 of which are breakthrough). In total, 80 employees in the Worcester Police Department have contracted COVID-19 in the last 30 days, which represents 16 percent of the entire department. The numbers also reflect that there are currently 46 other City employees who are COVID positive and 25 employees who are pending results. In total, there are 71 City employees not on the job this week.
To date, 103 fines and 128 verbal warnings have been issued to businesses not in compliance with enforcing the citywide mask mandate. 433 businesses have received educational materials during proactive inspections made by the City's interdepartmental enforcement team.
Overall, 59 percent (120,847) of the total population in Worcester is fully vaccinated (up 1,375 from last week), while 69 percent (142,134) have received at least one dose (up 1,176 from last week).
Of Worcester’s fully vaccinated population, 36 percent (44,533 people as of Jan. 11) have received a booster dose (18 percent increase from beginning of the year). That compares to 46 percent statewide and 37 percent of the country’s fully vaccinated population (data as of Jan. 11).
A total of 1,764 doses were administered last week through the City’s Mobile Vaccination Clinics.
While the City’s vaccination rate continues to tick up, the youth population continues to be one of the hardest to reach. As such, the City Manager is establishing an advisory group to increase youth vaccination rates. That group will consist of members of City administration, Worcester Public Schools, charter schools, youth sports and a member of youth services. They will meet regularly to identify strategies to increase the number of youth vaccinations. School based clinics will run the week after February vacation, including booster clinics for those age-eligible, in coordination with Worcester Public Schools.
Ongoing public vaccination and booster clinics open to the entire eligible population include:
There are two upcoming booster clinics:
For more information and other upcoming clinics, please visit worcesterma.gov.
The CDC has recommended a fourth booster for people with weakened immune systems. The Worcester Division of Public Health is working with the state to learn as much information as possible about eligibility and distribution and preparing for delivery as it becomes available.