New York City may already see signs of a winter peak in COVID-19 even though vacation travel, gatherings and colder weather are just beginning.
The city’s positive test rate peaked in two months, with hospitals admitting more than 100 new patients infected with the virus on Friday, contributing to a 25% increase in hospitalizations in just two weeks.
The city has 463 people hospitalized for COVID-19, up from 370 on November 12. The seven-day average of residents testing positive for the virus – the lowest in New York state – rose above 2% for the first time since late September. This measurement does not include the results of rapid antigenic tests.
Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on Friday evening as countries including the United States began to impose travel restrictions from southern Africa to stem the spread of the new variant. Although the variant known as omicron has not been found in the United States, Hochul warned, “it’s coming.”
On Saturday, she also ordered nursing homes and adult care facilities to make reminders available to all residents as hospitalizations across the state increased.
The governor reported 2,696 people hospitalized with the virus on Saturday, up from 2,249 a week earlier.
Several areas of the state report higher positivity rates: 10.2% in western New York; 9.4% in Finger Lakes and 9.3% in the Mohawk Valley.
“With the emergence of the omicron variant overseas and warning signs of spikes in cases this winter, the need for basic COVID safety procedures here in New York is more important than ever,” Hochul said in a statement.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said on Sunday that the new variant appears to be more transmissible and will “inevitably” arrive in the United States.
Last week, Biden restricted the United States’ travel links with South Africa and seven other countries in the region from Monday. The president returns to the White House later Sunday after a long vacation weekend as U.S. health officials assess the risks of the new variant.