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NYS Cracks 10% Positivity as Hospitalizations Remain at Half of 2020 Winter Surge

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A man is tested for Covid-19 at a mobile testing unit, as pedestrians make their way in the sidewalk during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 8, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

New York State surpassed a 10% Covid-19 positivity rate, according to data released by Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday, Dec. 21, as infections and hospitalizations continue to climb pushed by the Omicron variant.

The Empire State on Monday registered a 10.39% infection rate, up from 9.04% the day before, and with 22,258 people testing positive, according to the governor’s office daily COVID update. The seven-day average was lower at 7.88% statewide.

Hospitalizations were up to 4,328, an increase of 308 patients from the day before, and 57 people died due to the virus.

But the hospital admissions were still well below the first peak of April 2020 when they surged to almost 19,000, and roughly half the number during the winter 2020 increase when figures went north of 8,800, according to the state’s Department of Health.

“Cases are rising due to the winter surge, but this is not March 2020 – we knew this was coming and New York is taking action to make vaccines, boosters, and testing more widely available,” Hochul said in a statement. “We know what works – get vaccinated, get the booster, mask up, and exercise caution in indoor public spaces. Now is the time for all of us to do our part and help protect those more vulnerable to make sure we all get through this holiday season safely.”

President Joe Biden agreed Tuesday to send more resources to help New York combat the surge, including a new mass testing site set to open in the city before Christmas, deploying 30 ambulances and extra staff upstate, and more rapid tests, according to the governor, who spoke with the Commander-in-Chief that day.

“I want to thank President Biden for his leadership in fighting the nationwide COVID-19 winter surge and taking comprehensive action against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant,” she said.

New York City had a 7.49% positivity rate as of Monday, Dec. 20, while the highest infection rate in the state was registered on Long Island at 10.32%, followed by Western New York at 8.95%. Suffolk County reported 13.6% positivity on Tuesday.

Broken-down percentages showed a similar picture in each of the Five Boroughs, with Manhattan topping the list at 7.62% and the Bronx at the low end with 7.06%.

Meanwhile, 76.8% of all New York State residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 69.1% who have completed their vaccination series.

In the city, 79.6% have gotten at least one shot and 71.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the city’s Health Department.

Hochul on Monday outlined her plan to combat the winter surge, including $65 million in support for local governments to enforce her mask mandate, opening seven new test sites next week, including two in the city, and distributing 10 million at-home tests through January.

The more contagious Omicron variant is sweeping the city and state and testing sites have become overwhelmed by long lines of people looking to get swabbed.

Hochul’s recently-appointed Health Commissioner Mary Bassett tested positive for COVID-19, but she is fully vaccinated and boosted and reported feeling fine, the governor revealed Monday.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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