WORCESTER, Mass. - In just one week, the City of Worcester has reported its highest one day increase, one week increase and seven-day average of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Since last week, Worcester reports 3,513 new confirmed positive cases, adding to the city’s total of 38,342 cases since March 2020. On Wednesday alone, the city reported 1,094 new cases. 

"We have seen a huge increase in the positivity rates here in the City of Worcester, nationally, and in the state of Massachusetts," Mayor Joe Petty said during Wednesday’s weekly COVID-19 media briefing.

City Manager Ed Augustus said the city expects the number of cases in the past week to be significantly higher, since the reported total doesn’t include the number of positive at-home self tests.

“We think that number is underrepresenting the number of cases that are in the community,” Augustus said.

Worcester is currently reporting an average of more than 501 cases per day, representing a marked increase compared to last winter’s surge when the city averaged 195 cases per day. 

To date, 59% of the city’s population is fully vaccinated and 69% of city residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Worcester's Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh described the current surge as "Fighting a tsunami with a tin cup." Dr. Hirsh said cloth masks are proving to be less effective against the omicron variant and he recommends anyone that can to wear a N95 mask or better. Dr. Hirsh said if cloth is the only option, he suggest wearing two masks. 

City workers across the board have been affected by the virus, including 110 firefighters, 265 school department employees and 240 municipal employees out of work with COVID-19 or waiting at home for test results following close exposure to someone else infected with the virus. 

The city will hold its next media briefing on Friday, Jan. 14.

More announcements: 

  • Worcester City Council, School Committee, and all subcommittees will be going back to fully remote meetings for the month of January

  • Starting Thursday, Jan. 6, City Hall services will go back to appointment only

  • The Worcester Senior Center remains closed to all visitors and programming will continue virtually

  • The Mercantile Center will continue to host four days of testing clinics next week and a vaccine clinic on Friday