No ‘steep surge’ from BA.2 variant, NY health commissioner says

FILE — A man walks out of a vaccination bus at a mobile vaccine clinic in Midtown Manhattan, Dec. 6, 2021. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging New York City’s sweeping mandate requiring nearly all private-sector businesses to ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace, asserting that the city’s attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic deprives tens of thousands of businesses from pursuing their livelihoods. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York’s top health official said Monday that she doesn’t expect to see a big surge in COVID-19 cases in the state as a new subvariant of the virus grows more prevalent.

The omicron variant BA.2, commonly known as “stealth omicron,” now represents 42% of all cases in New York, according to state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.

Even with that shift, “we don’t expect to see a steep surge in cases in New York state,” Bassett said Monday at an Albany briefing with Gov. Kathy Hochul.

She said that, so far, the state is not seeing a steep rate of growth like in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe.

New York state averaged around 2,100 new COVID-19 cases per day last week, according to state health officials. That’s up 32% from the previous week.

The state’s data doesn’t include results from at-home COVID-19 tests.

The number of patients made seriously ill by COVID-19 has been declining since early January, when nearly 12,700 were hospitalized. That number had fallen to about 900 as of Sunday.

New York, like other states, scaled back or dropped some of its COVID-19 precautions this month as a wintertime surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant subsided. That included getting rid of mandatory masks for students and teachers in schools.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration announced last month that the state won’t enforce its mandate requiring healthcare workers to get booster shots because of concerns over staffing shortages.

About 57% of roughly 146,000 nursing home staffers across New York were fully vaccinated with a booster shot as of mid-March, up from 43% in mid-February.

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