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COVID-19 Update: Jan. 5: 38,342 Cases

For Immediate Release: 1/7/2022 1:12 pm

To date, there have been 38,342 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the City of Worcester. That represents an increase of 3,513 cases from last Wednesday, which was 34,829, and we suspect the actual total to be much higher due to unreported at-home tests.

1,094 new positive tests were added since yesterday.

Our 7-day average is 501.86, almost double last week’s average of 259.6.

These represent our highest one-day increase, weekly increase, and seven-day average since the pandemic began.

Positive case counts in surrounding towns as of yesterday: Shrewsbury: 5,158 (+519 from last week); Grafton: 2,247 (+229 from last week).

To date, 478 Worcester residents have died due to COVID-19, an increase of 3 from last week.

All combined medical facilities of Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care had 258 total COVID-positive in-patients (+85 from last week) and 57 total COVID-positive ICU patients (+1 from last week). To date, their facilities have had a total of 924 COVID-related deaths (+22 from last week).

Overall, 59 percent (120,847) of the total population in Worcester is fully vaccinated (up 1% from last week), while 69 percent (142,134) have received at least one dose.

1,349 doses were administered last week through the City’s Mobile Vaccination Clinics, including 658 last Wednesday at the Library, a new record number at that site.

Next steps

Please get your flu shot if you have not already. It isn’t too late to do so, and you can get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines at same time – there is no need to space them out. This will not only keep yourself safe, but reducing cases of the flu will also help keep hospital beds open.

You can find a flu vaccine by asking your doctor, going to a local pharmacy, or visiting vaccines.gov/find-vaccines.

We are aware that despite the expanded hours dedicated to testing, people are still waiting in long lines. We understand the frustration and are doing everything we can to alleviate wait times and improve efficiency.

At this time, UMass Memorial Health is at full capacity in terms of the staffing and time windows it can offer for testing at Mercantile Center. They have explored every option for further expansion and will continue to do so.

The City has been partnering with UMass to provide additional support, including police details to assist with logistics, portable bathrooms for those waiting in line, and distributing over 125,000 at-home tests to our partner organizations to date.

While the City’s resources are also strained, we will continue to assess the situation and look for ways to improve the testing process. We will announce any updates or changes to testing services as soon as possible.

To help accommodate further demand for testing, the UMass Memorial Health clinic at the Mercantile Center has added an extra day and is now offering free, walk-up testing four days a week. Visit worcesterma.gov/coronavirus for dates and times.

While our vaccination rate continues to tick up, it is increasing very slowly. To build our capacity to vaccinate more people, two new weekly clinics launched this week. They are both free and do not require appointments. Visit worcesterma.gov/coronavirus/vaccination for vaccination locations, dates, and times.

Executive Order Follow-Up

Today the City Manager announced a new update due to so many City employees being unavailable due to COVID-19-related illness and exposure. Effective Jan. 6, 2022, instead of the previously announced 25% limit, City Hall and other municipal buildings – still excluding the DCU Center and Senior Center – will available to the public by appointment only.

This applies to the Department of Public Works and Parks offices and 25 Meade St., which also houses Inspectional Services, Worcester Division of Public Health, and Fire Prevention. City Hall appointment hours are 9 am – 4 pm, but are subject to change in specific departments based on staff availability.

Despite vaccination rates – 84.48 percent of City employees and 73.1 percent of Worcester Public School staff are fully vaccinated – we are managing at least 123 positive cases among City staff with over 100 tests pending due to possible exposures.

That’s 82 more positive cases than last week, and it means that around 225 City employees are currently at home. In addition, 250 Worcester Public School staff are out due to COVID-19.

Our Fire Department has been hit particularly hard by breakthrough cases, reflecting just how contagious the Omicron variant is, particularly among shared spaces and close quarters. And this impact will be felt by the entire community, as fewer fire department staff available makes it more difficult for them to respond to emergency calls.

Similarly, cases among the medical community prevent further expansion of testing and vaccine clinics, as well as challenges in treating.

New variants and breakthrough cases due to waning vaccine immunity also show that booster shots are more critical than ever to prevent illness, hospitalization, and death. This is why the City Manager felt it necessary to add the booster requirement for City employees announced last week.

Also part of that executive order, effective for the month of January: The Senior Center is closed to all visitors, and programming will be available virtually. And all City board and commission meetings will transition to a virtual format.

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