Rise of omicron in New York

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The South African doctor who alerted officials of the possibility of a new variant, later named omicron, said the “unusual but mild” symptoms were what caught her attention. (Photo: Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The omicron COVID-19 variant hasn’t been in New York but a few weeks. It’s too soon to tell if predictions are right and it will become the dominant strain in every state, including New York. It’s not too soon to see that the holiday/winter surge is helping omicron spread.  

On December 4 the Department of Health reported 1.1% of COVID-19 tests sequenced were from omicron. On Monday, December 20, Governor Kathy Hochul said 11% of tests sequenced between December 5-18 were found to be from omicron.  

It appears omicron is at the least not going to disappear quietly. Tuesday, Gov. Hochul said the percentage of omicron grew significantly to 36% for cases sequenced between December 7-20, according to GISAID, a global initiative to track virus data.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also been tracking COVID variants. They even have a website dedicated to forecasting the spread of omicron and how it could impact public health. They said omicron is expected to spread more easily than the original virus but are not sure if it will spread more easily compared to the delta strain.

New York is part of the CDC’s Region Two which also includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The rise in omicron cases between November 27 and December 11 can be seen in the table below.

Region two CDC COVID data

DateDeltaOmicronOther
November 2799.4%.2%.4%
December 497.5%2%.5%
December 1186.5%13.1%.4%
Source: DOH

Unfortunately, as it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic, the CDC said it is still gathering data on omicron and are still watching how the virus behaves to understand it better. Because of that, they said omicron could cause surges in numbers greater than seen in previous strains, based on forecasts.

“Results from scenario analyses indicate that current increases in Omicron cases are likely to lead to a national surge in the coming weeks with peak daily numbers of new infections that could exceed previous peaks; these scenarios may be realized as soon as January,” they said.

In her daily updates, Gov. Hochul said there were 38 cases of omicron on December 13. By December 19, that had number had grown to 192. A study from Oxford University said two doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine may not be enough to keep people from getting sick from omicron, further supporting the need for a booster shot, according to The Hill.

Considering omicron, some counties like Albany and Warren have been encouraging people to get a booster shot. “Booster shots offer the best protection against the COVID variants, and we’re working to make them available to as many people as possible ahead of the holidays,” Albany County Executive, Dan McCoy said on Tuesday.

As of December 13, there were 226,972 breakthrough cases among New Yorkers, representing 1.8% of the fully vaccinated population over the age of 12. There were also 12,916 hospitalizations, representing .10% of the fully vaccinated population over the age of 12.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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