City Council wants better testing for COVID-19 variants

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NEW YORK — New York City Council members revealed new legislation Tuesday to make the city’s reporting of coronavirus data more transparent, especially when it comes to testing for new variants.

“The biggest challenge we’re going to face in the face of the pandemic are these new variants that are emerging and more contagious for sure, and the city is barely testing for virus variants,” said Councilmember Mark Levine. “This data is needed to make decisions on public policy.”

The legislation would require that on a daily basis, the city report how many “samples of sequenced and how many variants of each of the different strains are detected.”

These variants represent a new challenge in the fight against COVID-19.

“Variants remain a great concern and we continue to detect them in the United States with at least 33 jurisdictions reporting 471 variant cases as of Jan. 31. Four-hundred-sixty-seven of these cases are now B117 variants first detected in the U.K., and cases of this variant have now been detected in 32 states,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

In New York City, high schools are closed, but arenas, stadiums and restaurants are reopening.

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