WORCESTER, Mass. - COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in Central Massachusetts. 

According to Massachusetts Department of Public Health data, the 14-day daily average as of April 28 is 21.8 cases, more than double the average on April 7. Compared to the rest of the state, however, the 14-day daily rate in Worcester County is well below average. From April 14 to April 28, Worcester County reported over 2,500 positive COVID-19 cases.

UMass president and CEO Dr. Eric Dickson said while the virus has evolved to be more infectious, it is causing less severe illness.

Hospitals in Central Massachusetts currently have 50 COVID-19 patients, which Dr. Dickson said is about 10% of what they saw during the third surge. 

Over the last three weeks, Dr. Dickson said about 25% of people who come in with symptoms test positive. He said while the number of positive cases has gone up, they’re not seeing a big rise in hospitalizations.​

“As the virus continues to evolve, it always evolves to have the predominant strain be more infectious and often that is associated with less virulence, less severe disease,” Dr. Dickson said. “And that’s definitely what we’re seeing now in terms of the stealth variant is a less severe disease thankfully, causing less hospitalizations, less strain on the hospitals.”

Dr. Dickson said he believes we are moving out of the pandemic phase and moving towards the endemic. He still recommends people get tested for COVID-19 when experiencing symptoms and get vaccinated.