A further 28,924 infections were reported to the state, reflecting cases on December 21, governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday.
That works out to a statewide rate of about 115 infections per 100,000, Hochul said during a press briefing. “This virus is going vertical; it’s going straight up,” she added.
New York’s daily caseload topped 20,000 on December 16 for the first time since the start of the pandemic and has subsequently remained above that level, according to data from the state’s health department. The latest figure surpassed the previous record of 23,391 reported on December 19.
The current surge in coronavirus cases in New York and across the US has largely been propelled by the new Omicron variant. About 73 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in the US during the week ended December 18 were estimated to be linked to Omicron, according to data earlier this week from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it the dominant strain in the US.
The proportion of Omicron cases is even higher than the national average in a CDC-designated region that includes New York. In the week ended December 18, Omicron was estimated to have made up 92 per cent of cases in the agency’s “Region 2”, comprising New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“It’s not the number of people infected that keeps me up at night, it’s the number who end up in a hospital,” Hochul said during the briefing. She pointed to decisions in recent weeks to pause elective surgeries at state hospitals and a requirement for nursing homes to provide access to Covid-19 booster shots as part of an effort to pre-emptively protect the health system and lower the risk of it being overwhelmed.
Hochul said the number of Covid-related hospitalisations across the state was “creeping up” but, at 4,452, was two-thirds of where it was a year ago.
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