NYC omicron surge to last 'a matter of weeks,' Mayor de Blasio says

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
NYC omicron surge to last 'a matter of weeks,' mayor says
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NJ Burkett has the latest on the COVID omicron surge impacting New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- For the fourth consecutive day, New York state saw a record level of positive COVID cases with 23,391, and with Christmas just days away, there's growing concern about the spread throughout the Tri-State area and beyond.

In New York City alone, there were 15,245 positive cases reported Monday -- that's a new single-day record.

The surge is believed to be fueled by the omicron variant, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that he expects the spike to last several weeks with a sharp increase in cases before they drop.

"The good news is based on what our health care leadership understands, we are talking about a matter of weeks," he said. "We are going to see a really fast upsurge in cases. We are going to see a lot of New Yorkers affected by omicron. So far, thank God, based on everything we've seen so far, the cases are more mild than what we've experienced."

He said vaccination is the key.

"We do know is omicron moves very fast, it's very transmissible," he said. "It moves fast, we have to move faster. We do know vaccination helps omicron. Bottom line, fast spreading variant, we are going to see a surge of cases in a few weeks. Then we think we will see it trail off. The answer is vaccination."

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Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi advised people to plan their holidays around the most vulnerable family member.

"That may mean hosting virtual gatherings or moving activities outdoors...masks, same day tests and distancing," he said. "I do advise older adults and others with higher risks to skip optional activities, particularly in crowded settings, particularly for the next few weeks."

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.

Meanwhile, the demand for testing continues to surge as people prepare to travel for Christmas, and the city is trying to make the process as easy as possible by opening more testing sites in multiple locations, including East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

De Blasio said the city currently has 89 brick-and-mortar testing sites up and running and plans to add 23 more by the end of this week. Twenty of those additional sites will be brick-and-mortar and three will be mobile, bringing the total number of city-run testing sites to 112, the mayor said.

The city is also planning to send out Test and Trace Corps members to establish quality control at testing sites in the city that are run by outside vendors.

The oversight will ensure the sites are being run under constant supervision, are compliant with current testing standards, and have plans in place for continuous staffing, the mayor said.

Officials are also now coordinating with community groups to hand out 500,000 at-home test kits and 1 million KN95 masks.

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Even though the long lines and surging COVID cases are happening just days before Christmas, city officials say the city is currently offering some of the highest number of daily COVID tests in the world.

The vast number of tests is evident in the continued single-day positive COVID case records, officials said.

NYC hospitalization rates by vaccination status:

Cases per capita by vaccination status:

NYC COVID death rates by vaccination status:

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