Holiday COVID surge ‘has arrived’ in NY as cases, hospitalization climb at alarming rate: Hochul

Coronavirus
covid nursing home deaths memorial wall

Theresa Sari, left, and her daughter Leila Ali look at a protest-memorial wall for nursing home residents who died from COVID-19, including Sari’s mother Maria Sachse, on March 21, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK — An “alarming jump” in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in New York since Thanksgiving sparked major concern among health and government officials, Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday.

The average number of cases per 100,000 people in New York has surged by 58% since Thanksgiving, Hochul said. Last week, it had gone up 43% since Thanksgiving — an increase of 15%.

The average number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people in New York jumped 70% since Thanksgiving, according to the governor. When Hochul announced a new statewide mask mandate on Friday, average hospitalizations had gone up 29% since Thanksgiving — an increase of 41% in just a matter of days.

“We anticipated a spike after Thanksgiving and it has arrived,” Hochul said. “This is an alarming jump statewide.”

Additionally, 57 new fatalities were reported on Tuesday, bringing the death toll since the beginning of the pandemic to more than 60,000, according to CDC data.

Tuesday also marked the one-year anniversary of the first COVID shots administered in New York. However, what should have been a celebratory occasion was stymied, Hochul said, because about 30% of New Yorkers are not fully vaccinated.

“This was a turning point in our war against COVID,” Hochul said of the vaccine’s arrival in New York last year. “Remember that moment … and today I should be able to say that it’s over because everyone took advantage of this opportunity.”

Hochul said the current holiday surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations could have been avoided if everyone had gotten vaccinated.

“This is a crisis of the unvaccinated,” she added. “If we had 100% [of New Yorkers] vaccinated, we wouldn’t be here.”

Hochul said her priority as governor is to protect the health of New Yorkers and the health of the economy, which is why she implemented the new mask mandate rather than crippling business shutdowns.

The short-term measure — in place until at least Jan. 15 — requires everyone to mask up in indoor public spaces where proof of COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory to enter.

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