For second year, coronavirus looms over Christmas celebrations


UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — For the second year in a row, New Yorkers celebrated Christmas with COVID-19 looming large.

Charlie Saputo said he wasn’t feeling well and found one of the few testing tents open on the Upper West Side.

“I got here, and they were down to the last two tubes, so I am heading down to the next one,” he said.

LabWorq was operating COVID-19 testing in only a few locations with reduced hours on Christmas. Jeremy Roth was swabbing people at West 72nd and Amsterdam Avenue. 

“I don’t celebrate the holidays too much and I’m glad to help people out here today,” he said.

Leading up to the holiday, New York saw a record number of positive COVID-19 tests. New York state announced 44,431 people tested positive in just one day.

As omicron sweeps through the tri-state and the country, experts said it’s now the dominant variant. So many people are getting sick, airlines continued to cancel flights on Christmas, citing staffing shortages. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new isolation guidelines for the state’s frontline workers in a Christmas Eve message. She said that COVID-19 positive critical workers may be able to go back to work after 5 days. 

She said it only applied, “if they are fully vaccinated, again fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic or their symptoms have been resolving and they have no fever for 72 hours.”

And while omicron infections, at this point, seemed to be more mild than previous variants, the New York State Department of Health announced that pediatric hospitalizations are rising. The DOH encouraged parents to get children 5 and older vaccinated.

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