NEW YORK (PIX11) — Warmer weather’s on the rise and more outside gatherings are on the horizon. So is another COVID-19 variant.
Doctors say BA.2, a mutation of the omicron variant, is rapidly spreading overseas and circulating around New York City. For the first time since taking over as the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan laid out his plan Friday to stay ahead of any new variants.
“There is no evidence BA.2 causes more severe illness, but we continue to monitor it and we continue to stay vigilant,” he said.
While the BA.2 mutation may not be as severe as others, Vasan says the city’s vaccine mandate for the private workforce remains. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced the mandate in late December.
It requires vaccination for private-sector employees who work in-person with others, including professional athletes who play home games. Ongoing COVID restrictions are in effect, as concerns grow over a BA.2 surge. So far, it has not led to more hospitalizations or deaths.
The seven-day average positivity rate in New York City was 1.49%, and in the state, 1.76%. But citywide, BA.2 accounted for 30% of all new cases.
Doctors reminded people to get vaccinated and, in areas of high transmissibility, to mask up.
“I don’t think we need to panic just yet. I do think we have to take proper precautions, follow common sense CDC guidelines, wearing a mask indoors,” Dr. Pavel Gozenput said.