By Staff

WORCESTER (CBS) — The city of Worcester is seeing its highest COVID-19 numbers since the start of the pandemic.

Amid the new Omicron surge, Worcester has reported 2,040 cases in the past week – and 923 new cases on Tuesday alone.

“You don’t need me to tell you that our numbers continue to rise and we expect the peak is yet to come,” City Manager Ed Augustus said at a news conference Wednesday.

And those figures only account for positive cases being reported to the city’s health department through existing test sites.

“That number is not reflective of the folks who are testing positive with the home kits,” Augustus said. “So that number could be 50 to 100% higher than the number I’m reporting.”

Case counts are expected to continue rising through at least mid-January.

“We know that we’re in the teeth of a really, really big surge, a bigger surge than we’ve ever seen before,” Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsch said.

City leaders are urging people to get vaccinated and get boosted. Worcester is only 58% vaccinated, lagging well behind the statewide average.

On Wednesday, the city was handing out free rapid test kids to people getting a vaccine or booster at the Worcester Public Library.

Hirsch said that vaccinated people ending up in the hospital are usually not boosted.

“The booster really makes a big difference,” he said.

Augustus announced that starting February 1, Worcester city employees must get the booster shot within 14 days of becoming eligible. Those who are not boosted in that timeframe need to be tested weekly.

Additionally, Worcester Public Schools athletic events will only allow parents and siblings in the stands – not other spectators. Staff