COVID News: New York reports record number of new cases as holiday travel ramps up

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, December 20, 2021
New York reports record number of new cases as holiday travel ramps up
Lucy Yang has more on the holiday travel rush, beginning just as New York State sets a new single-day record for positive COVID cases for the third day in a row.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The holiday travel rush has begun just as New York State sets a new single-day record for positive COVID cases, three days in a row.

In the latest numbers from Governor Hochul out of 267,422 reported test results 22,478 were positive. That brings the positivity rate to 8.41% with hospitalizations down 29 at 3,880.

On Saturday, the number of air travel passengers screened by the TSA at U.S. airports nationwide eclipsed two million for a third day in a row.

Friday's 2,233,754 passengers screened was the highest number of travelers since Nov. 29, the Monday after Thanksgiving, as the number of travelers approaches pre-pandemic figures.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a special COVID briefing Sunday to address the rise in cases amid the spread of the omicron variant.

"Clearly a challenge, a new challenge, but one we can meet. And what's crucial for all new yorkers to understand is, New York City is ready," de Blasio said.

"Omicron has proven to be the fastest, fittest, and most formidable variant of the virus, thus far," Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said. "This is in part due to it's ability to evade the immune system, meaning that those who already had COVID and those who are vaccinated are more likely to be infected by omicron than past variants."

The mayor urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated or receive their booster shot if they have not.

de Blasio said the City reported 5,731 new COVID cases on Saturday and 162 new patients were admitted to hospitals and being treated for COVID.

"A really, really shocking figure and one that will keep growing undoubtedly," de Blasio said.

The mayor said a decision would be made before Christmas about whether the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration would go on.

"This is an all vaccination event, and it is outdoors and those are two very, very important, favorable factors," de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, New York state set another single-day positive COVID case record for the third day in a row with 22,478 new cases.

The figure breaks the record for single-day positive COVID test results which was set just one day earlier.

The 21,908 positive COVID test results are out of 290,930 results reported - equaling a 7.53% positivity rate.

People have reported waiting in line for hours to get tested and at-home testing kits are in very high demand.

"I don't plan to mail 20 million kits to people. What I'm going to do is do micro-targeting to find out the areas that have the least number of people vaccinated and higher rates, that's what we're tracking. So, they're also available in stores and one thing I announced recently is that your insurance company now has to cover the cost of you buying that testing kit," Hochul said.

More than half of the positive cases are in New York City.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted there would not be new widespread school or business closures despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We are in such a better situation than much of the country, but the key is more, more, and more vaccinations. So we are going to implement these mandates aggressively. We're sending out inspectors, we need people to do this, we need all of these mandates to be followed. The more we vaccinate, the more we can get through this and the great danger here is shutdowns and restrictions," de Blasio told WNYC Friday.

On Saturday, de Blasio said on Twitter that the City reported 5,263 new cases and 214 new hospitalizations on Friday.

The mayor announced the most aggressive vaccine mandate in the country last week, requiring private-sector workers to get vaccinated by December 27.

NYC hospitalization rates by vaccination status:

Cases per capita by vaccination status:

NYC COVID death rates by vaccination status:

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New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

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