Omicron NYC News: Most visits at city-run hospitals suspended, CityMD temporarily closing locations

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- NYC and New York are taking action after the state has set a new record of 28,924 positive cases --the sixth straight day over 20,000.

Amid the rise in cases, most visits at the 11 city-run hospitals are suspended starting Wednesday. The few permitted to visit must have vaccination proof or show a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours.

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The move comes after "a recent outbreak in one of our hospitals that we think is related to one of our visitors," said Health + Hospitals President and CEO Dr Mitchell Katz.

Exceptions would be made, Katz said, but "for a short time, to be able to make sure we don't cause more disease, we need to limit the number of visitors."

Meantime, just as demand for COVID testing is spiking amid a surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant, CityMD has announced it is temporarily closing 19 clinics in New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island.

The company says the temporary closures are happening to preserve its ability to staff other locations, most of which are currently operating at full capacity, and hopefully avoid future closures as the COVID surge continues.

CityMD operates 150 sites in the metro area. Three of the closures are in New Jersey, two are on Long Island, one is in Westchester County and the rest are in NYC boroughs.

A full list is available here.

Regarding testing offered by the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that officials are adding seven additional city testing sites, bringing the total to 119.

In addition, the city is deploying five mobile units to distribute free rapid at-home tests, the mayor said.

And the hours at Health + Hospital testing sites are being expanded to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"We've been able to do that by going virtual for our ambulatory care visits so I can then have nurses and other staff who work in our clinics be available in the testing areas to make the testing go much faster," said Health + Hospitals President and CEO Dr Mitchell Katz.

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As recently as Dec. 13, the city had been averaging fewer than 3,600 new cases of COVID-19 each day.

But after nearly 63,500 people tested positive in just five days, the average daily number of infections had climbed to 10,991 as of Wednesday - an increase of 207% in a week.



The 4,328 hospitalized patients in New York is also highest since April, but it is 2,300 fewer than same time last year.

"We are not panicking, we have the resources we need, it's not March of 2020, it's not even December of 2020, we have to keep this in context," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Can you imagine the state of New York if people had not gotten vaccinated and boosted. We would be overwhelmed with this variant, absolutely overwhelmed."

Despite the "staggering" number of cases, de Blasio said, hospitals have not been overwhelmed. As of Wednesday, hospitalizations were at 2.21 per 100,000.

The city continues to push boosters as the most effective response to omicron.

On Tuesday, the mayor announced a $100 incentive to get vaccinated at city-run sites is now being extended to people getting booster shots as well.

The latest data shows people who are vaccinated and boosted are likely protected from the worst outcomes of omicron.

You may still have a breakthrough infection, but it's likely to keep you out of the hospital.

"We did those $100 incentives, now we're doing it again and saying 'Get boosted right now, ahead of the holidays, right now when omicron's surging, fight it back with that booster'" de Blasio said. "And I find that people really do respond to it. But you gotta do it with the mandates too."

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Also, an announcement on what's happening at next week's Times Square New Year's Eve celebration is imminent.

The mayor has hinted the party will go on, but perhaps with additional restrictions, for his last night in office.

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De Blasio says he'll make a decision this week on any possible changes for Times Square on New Year's Eve, but for now, preparations are moving forward with a traditional celebration.
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