NEW YORK (PIX11) — The new omicron sub-variant known as BA.2 is quickly becoming the dominant strain in New York, according to state health officials.
“At the moment, BA.2 [accounts for] 42 percent of the cases,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.
It appears to be 30% more infectious than the original omicron, which quickly spiked cases in the New York area beginning in early December and led to a month-long span of more than 100 New Yorkers dying each day. Vaccinations and anti-virals appear to work well against BA.2, Bassett said.
“We do not expect a large surge in cases,” she added.
There has been slight uptick in New York City in particular. As such, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she has testing and vaccine infrastructure at the ready and is maintaining the health care facility mask mandate.
Her administration said it is more focused on boosting vaccine rates and did not appear poised to reimpose indoor or school mask mandates, which only just ended over the last few weeks.
“We are not in an alarmist mode, not panicking over this, we are just watching the numbers,” Hochul said.
Reimposing restrictions might not even be realistic, with many New Yorkers seeming ready to regain some sense of pre-pandemic life.
“These kids need to go back to normal,” Natalya Murakhver said.
The Manhattan mother leads a group of parents imploring Mayor Eric Adams to drop the mask mandate for children under five who are too young to be vaccinated.
“There is no evidence that children this age are able to wear masks properly, or that they are any more susceptible to COVID-19 than older kids who are now unmasked,” she said.
Recently, Mayor Adams had expressed some openness to unmasking children under five, but his new health commissioner said last week he had some reservations about unmasking.