Omicron: United States sees surge as NYC battles variant
New York is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases once again. The state reported more than 21,900 daily cases on Saturday. "It is clear that the Omicron variant is here in New York City in full force," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The spike in infections is mostly due to the emergence of Omicron, said Dave Choksi, NYC's Health Commissioner.
- According to local health experts, New York City's COVID-19 test positivity rate doubled in three days this week.
- This comes even as the testing capacity has been increased.
- Officials are now increasing the number of "booster" vaccine shots.
- The recent spike in cases "is a reminder that the pandemic is not over yet" said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
Omicron was identified in 3% of tests, as of the first week of December, official data suggested. The variant may now account for 13% of infections, officials said. To meet the increased testing demand, more public testing centers have been established. There has been a shortage of at-home rapid testing in the nation. The US has made test results a priority in its reopening.
Roughly 71% of NYC citizens are fully vaccinated. Overall, more than 203 million Americans, or nearly 60% of the population have been vaccinated, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The US is using the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations, as well as the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines in its vaccinations. One in six Americans have been administered "booster" doses.
Indoor activities for children aged 5-11 now require proof of vaccination. Starting December 27, persons aged 12 and up will have to produce confirmation of at least two vaccine doses for indoor activities. All citizens, including vaccinated ones, are mandated to wear masks indoors since late November. Workers are also required to provide certification of at least one vaccine dose to go to work.
Several NYC restaurants and a few in Brooklyn have temporarily closed as the staff was exposed to COVID-19. A Moulin Rouge! The Musical performance was canceled on December 17 after a crew member tested positive. Nine members of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team have been placed on the NBA's "health and safety procedures." Saturday Night Live's performance this week didn't feature a live audience