City Officials Urge Cautious Optimism as Omicron Slows

 by Tom MarinoJanuary 23, 2022

WORCESTER - City Manager Ed Augustus reported a moderate decline in COVID-19 statistics over the last week on Friday, January 21. Both Augustus and Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh urged cautious optimism as the newest surge appears to be slowing, but statistics remain high.

Hirsh also said a new variant, called Omicron A2, has been detected in a half dozen cases in Massachusetts. He said it is too early to determine the implications if the new variant.

The daily average of new cases in Worcester over the last seven days is 566. Last Friday, the seven-day average was 683 cases per day. Last year at this time, the seven-day average did not exceed 200 cases per day.

The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic rose 3,968 to 49,033 since the start of the pandemic.

Both Augustus and Hirsh also said the positive tests are sure to be undercounted as home testing increases. Those taking home tests but not tested elsewhere are not reported for public data collection.

Testing has found around 17% positivity according to Hirsh. While that is down from as high as 23% two weeks ago, but under 5% is where epidemiologists like to see the positivity rate to show transmission is under control.

The total number of deaths in Worcester increased by four in the last week to a total of 486 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The combined totals in the UMass and Saint Vincent medical systems, which serve Worcester and the surrounding region, saw number of total inpatients with COVID-19 dropped by 21 to 328. However, there are 13 more patients in the ICU than last week, a total of 73. The hospital systems also reported 21 new deaths, combined.

Augustus also reported that 39% of Worcester residents have now received the booster. That is equal to the nationwide average, but ten percentage points below the statewide average of 49%.

Any household can sign up to receive four free test kits from the federal government by visiting covidtests.gov.

The UMass Memorial Healthcare testing facility at the Mercantile Center continues to offer testing four days per week next week. The wait times have diminished substantially since those seen a the start of the new year.

The Mercantile Center schedule for next week is:

  • Monday, January 24 - Testing Only: 11 am - 4 pm
  • Tuesday, January 25 - Testing Only: 10 am - 3 pm
  • Wednesday, January 26 - Testing Only: 9 am - 12 pm
  • Thursday, January 27 - Testing Only: 10 am - 3 pm
  • Friday, January 28 - Vaccines Only: 12 pm - 3 pm
  • Friday, January 21, 12 - 8 p.m.
  • Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street

Vaccine Clinics Schedule

  • Sunday, January 23, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    • Good Shepherd Methodist Church, 267 Harrington Way
  • Monday, January 24, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    • Booster Clinic at Lincoln Village, 116 Country Club Boulevard
  • Monday, January 24, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    • YMCA, 766 Main Street
  • Thursday, January 27, 5 - 7 p.m.
    • Boys & Girls Club, 65 Boys & Girls Club Way
  • Friday, January 28, 12 - 8 p.m.
    • Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street
  • Monday, January 31, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    • YMCA, 766 Main Street
  • Thursday, February 3, 2 - 4 p.m.
    • MLK Center, 237 Chandler Street
  • Thursday, February 3, 5 - 7 p.m.
    • SMOC Shelter, 25 Queen Street
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