Officials say lessons were learned as omicron wave plateaus

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — There are reasons for cautious optimism as New York approaches a turning point with the latest COVID-19 surge.

New York continues to report a falling infection rate for the past few days, especially downstate. Hospitalizations have also begun to stabilize.

“I do think there is some early evidence that we may have peaked,” Dr. Denis Nash, a CUNY epidemiologist, said.

However, he said the state was lucky the omicron wave was not much worse.

“I think the lesson of this wave is that we were unprepared for massive surges,” Dr. Nash said.

Despite issues with long testing lines, the availability of home tests and staffing shortages across hospitals, schools and transit systems— Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have continued to preach keeping businesses and schools open during this wave.

“Since day one, I’m protecting the public health and the health of the economy,” Hochul said Tuesday. “When people look at this time, they will note we have chiefed both of those objectives and had no shut downs.”

Nash hopes people will also realize they must do better during the next wave with surge plans for all aspects of society, especially if the next variant is more deadly.

“We really were blindsided, at least our political leaders were blindsided and left without a good pandemic preparedness plan that included surge capacity for testing, and plans that would’ve tried to minimize large scale absences of employees in critical sectors,” Dr. Nash said.

The Biden Administration has been roundly criticized for not getting more home testing in place. Wednesday, it announced it would soon ship 10 million more rapid and lab tests to schools each month.

Some city leaders like Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said planning for future waves needs to begin immediately. He wants the city and state need to a better job of using technology to distribute and track the results of home tests.

Levine also want to begin working on regulations and enforcement better ventilation and air quality in offices and apartment buildings, which would go a long way to preventing disease spread.

“We are going to have to spend the time now, not wait until we are in the middle of the next crisis, so this city can handle any airborne disease, or another round of COVID,” Levine said.

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