NEW YORK — With the omicron variant in New York City and the holidays nearing, the seven-day average for COVID cases has tripled in the last month, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said Thursday.
He warned the data indicated an “alarming trend” in all five boroughs. Cases are expected to increase in the coming days.
“Unfortunately this virus is not yet tired of us,” Dr Chokshi said.
About 13 percent of cases in New York are now from the omicron variant, Dr. Chokshi said. Delta is still prominent, but omicron will likely become the dominant strain.
“It is likely to grow rapidly and more rapidly than we have seen with delta in the past,” he said.
Despite the rapid growth in cases, there hasn’t been a major change in hospitalizations or a major change in COVID deaths, officials said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said free masks and at-home rapid tests would be distributed around the city in addition to an uptick in testing availability.
“We need to be very aggressive,” he said.
The city will open additional brick-and-mortar testing sites and expand hours for testing.
Schools are also experiencing an increased number of infections. City data shows 546 cases were reported Wednesday among students and staff. Across the city, 877 classrooms are closed because of the virus.
“Our schools are safe,” the Department of Education said in a statement, “and only 1% of our classrooms are quarantining at the moment.”
The department also said schools will not be going remote, despite some thinking that’s the next step.
“I am in full agreement that the best thing for kids is to be in school,” incoming Chancellor David Banks said, noting that the department will keep a lookout for any further spikes.
De Blasio urged unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated and vaccinated New Yorkers to get the booster shot.
Unvaccinated New Yorkers are about eight times more likely to be infected and 13 times more likely to be hospitalized, officials said.
“It’s an urgent situation because what we know so far is imperfect about omicron,” de Blasio said. “It sure is clear that it spreads fast.”