KIP’S BAY, Manhattan (PIX11) — A new COVID variant is spreading across the Northeast and the epicenter appears to be New York City, doctors said.
Three out of four new COVID cases in New York City appear to be the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant. And while it is considered extremely contagious, severe infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from this new strain remain very low.
“We may be tired of COVID, of masking up and getting our shots, but COVID isn’t tired of us,” Lenox Hill Pulmonologist Doctor Len Horovitz told PIX11 News.
According to the latest Centers for Disease Control numbers, at least 75% of the new COVID cases in New York City are the new XBB 1.5 omicron subvariant. It is part of a post-holiday season surge predicted after air travel and family gatherings.
Even though this new strain is more transmissible, it does not appear more severe or lethal.
“We’re seeing that it’s mild as long as people have gotten their vaccinations and been boosted,” Horovitz told PIX11 News. “And we’re not seeing a big increase in hospitalizations.”
According to the NYC Department of Health, the positivity rate in New York City is 17.1%, with 3,220 new cases of COVID every day and recent hospitalizations standing at 190.
“This all happened around Christmas time and it spread through my family like wildfire,” Tom Lavin, of Pelham Manor in Westchester, told PIX11 News.
Lavin is one of the thousands who got the new strain of COVID over the holidays after years of being so careful to mask up and avoid large crowds.
“I had my omicron booster in October, but it didn’t seem to hold this thing at bay,” Lavin added.
Health officials urged everyone to get boosted, particularly seniors. According to the CDC, only 13% of those over 65 are up to date on their booster shots.