Spreading like wildfire: COVID-19 positivity rates nearly at 20% in New York state, Hochul says

As the Omicron variant continues to spread, New York state reported a nearly 20% COVID-19 positivity rate on Monday, with officials in New York City documenting an average 12.56% positivity rate over the last 28 days. 

Governor Kathy Hochul updated New Yorkers Dec. 28 with the latest COVID related data indicating the continued rapid transmission of COVID-19. Seventy-seven deaths were reported statewide Tuesday, with an additional 647 hospitalizations.

“With just three days left in the year, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to beat this pandemic in 2022,” said Hochul in a statement Tuesday. “Let’s start by celebrating New Year’s safely this weekend. Before visiting friends and family, please get yourself tested and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted, if eligible.”

This data comes as New Yorkers are simultaneously experiencing long wait times for testing, difficulty booking appointments for vaccinations, and a surge of travel and gathering during the holiday season.

Back on Dec. 16, top medical advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio Dr. Jay Varma tweeted that the rapid spread of the virus was something “we have never seen” before, while Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi stated that the new data was “an alarming trend.”

As New Year’s Eve approaches and plans to allow fully vaccinated individuals to watch the ball drop in Times Square remain unchanged, data indicates that the upwards trend of positive cases will continue to rise, especially with holiday travel and gatherings. 

Despite the troubling indications of increasing COVID numbers, Mayor de Blasio stated in a press conference Tuesday that he had no intention of closing schools, with Mayor-elect Eric Adams agreeing.

“It is going to take a lot for me to lock down the city,” said Adams during a press conference. 

However, more than 96,000 vaccine doses have been administered over the past 24 hours, with Mayor de Blasio introducing several new vaccine mandates in New York City this week as well as increasing regulations in schools and working to make testing more accessible to children. 

“We are moving every day to make sure schools stay open,” said de Blasio on Tuesday. “Ninety-six percent of Department of Education employees are vaccinated, we need to stay safe and stay open. School is the safest place for children.”

As the New Year approaches, the pandemic continues to spread nationwide. The Omicron variant brings an additional concern to the battle against this virus, and it is clear that New Yorkers and Americans alike do not want to enter a third year of the COVID-era, as addressed by Governor Hochul in her statement Tuesday. 

“If we all do what’s right, we can make 2022 a very different year from the hardships we’ve had to endure so far.” said Hochul.