New York City moved from a “green” Covid-19 risk level to a yellow or “medium” risk category for transmission on Monday as cases linked to the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 variant continue to rise in the city and across the country.
People walk through Grand Central Terminal wearing masks.
New York City is seeing a seven-day moving average of almost 2,500 daily coronavirus cases, up nearly 20% from the week before and 400% from early March, according to NYC Health.
The city moved to a yellow risk level after surpassing the threshold of more than 200 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said.
New Yorkers should exercise “even greater caution” than they have the last few weeks, Vasan wrote in a tweet, adding that vaccinations and boosters were a critical tool to fighting the surge.
The jump in cases also comes as the Omicron BA.2 variant continues to account for the majority of Covid-19 cases in the city.
Covid-19 hospitalizations have risen slightly over the past month, but remain low, along with coronavirus deaths.
Whether the rise in cases will lead Adams to reimpose mask mandates and other Covid-19 requirements. According to the alert system, recommended actions for the government for the medium risk category include requiring face masks in high-risk settings such as schools and other childcare settings as well as vaccine verification in restaurants and other public venues. New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) has said the system is meant to serve only as guidance for handling a rise in cases. Philadelphia became the first state last month to reinstate a blanket mask mandate in public venues as cases began to rise rapidly, but city officials decided to end the requirement just days after it was reimposed.
New York City had stayed in the green zone, the lowest level of Covid-19 community spread, since Adams first implemented the alert system in March based on criteria from the CDC. The new alert system came as Adams—who contracted Covid-19 last month—reversed several pandemic requirements, including school mask mandates and proof of vaccination in some public venues like restaurants and gyms after cases dropped in February. As cases began to rise again in March, he reinstated masks in some settings, including preschools and daycares. The move to the yellow alert level comes a month after the New York State Department of Health announced the emergence of two new highly contagious subvariants of the Omicron BA.2 strain, BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, which the government estimated accounted for more than 80% of all New York Covid-19 infections.
New York City Enters Higher Coronavirus Risk Level as Case Numbers Rise (New York Times)
Here’s What Changes When New York Raises Its Covid Risk Level (New York Times)
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