New York State reported a record number of daily COVID-19 infections on Friday as the omicron variant gains ground in the United States. More than 20,000 new cases were registered on Friday, the highest incidence since the pandemic began, despite the fact that the State has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Restaurants with staff decimated by the virus are being forced to close, while sporting and cultural events are suspended in an attempt to slow down the chain of community transmission. According to epidemiologists, the increase in recent days is due to the fast-spreading omicron variant, which overlaps the delta.
The queues outside the many mobile laboratories offering screening tests run around the block at any time of the day, in the middle of the holiday season of celebrations and travel. The busiest period of the year is seen as the prelude to a major rebound in January, an event that reaches an exhausted health system after two years of emergency. A relapse massive is only a matter of time, warn experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, in its English acronym; federal health agency).
New York Governor Kathy Hochul revealed Friday that the state had recorded 21,027 cases in the past 24 hours. A day earlier, Jay Varma, public health advisor to Bill de Blasio, the outgoing mayor of New York City, indicated that the positivity rate in the city doubles every three days. “Hmm, we’ve never seen this before on #NYC,” tweeted the Democrat, who on January 1 will hand over the keys to the town hall to Eric Adams. New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, with dantesque scenes such as the digging of mass graves on Hart Island or dozens of bodies piled up in refrigerated trucks outside a saturated funeral home.
Earlier this week, De Blasio revealed new plans to reinforce the mandatory vaccination in restaurants, bars and private sector companies by the end of the month, while Hochul announced the mandatory use of a mask throughout the state in indoor public spaces. , from restaurants to common areas of residential buildings. A mandate that is observed very loosely: both in urban transport and in stores, individuals with open faces proliferate. City authorities announced this week that they will distribute free covid-19 home tests as well as KN95 masks.
Meanwhile, the vaccination mandates issued by the different administrations become a thrown weapon between authorities and anti-vaccines, without the courts agreeing on the matter. A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a Biden Administration law that orders large companies to vaccinate their employees or weekly screening tests, which had previously been blocked by another court. The lack of agreement in this regard can lead to the Supreme Court.
The high incidence of covid-19 is a blow to the economic recovery of New York, with special incidence in the tourism sector, which was recovering traction. Several Broadway shows have been forced to postpone performances after workers tested positive for COVID-19. Radio City Music Hall announced the cancellation of a traditional Christmas show due to the increase in cases.
The spread of the disease is also disrupting the professional sports league schedule. The National Football League said Friday that it would reschedule three games over the next week due to “a highly transmissible new form of the virus … resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the League.”
The Administration of President Joe Biden has stepped up calls for people to get vaccinated. Of immunized Americans, only 30% have received the booster dose, despite administrative facilities to do so. The country has only vaccinated 61% of its population with the full regimen (70.7% in New York).
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.