STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York state health officials say the latest COVID-19 subvariant — an omicron mutant — might be the most contagious yet.
More contagious than any of the previous COVID-19 variants, the new strain, known as BA.2.12.1, accounts for 70% of the new cases in the Tri-State area, health officials say.
“I’d like to call your attention to upstate New York and the Northeast region where we have an increased number of cases in hospitalizations, the counties in orange or high COVID-19 community level reflect just a small subset of counties and of the United States population,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, last week.
CASES RISING IN NYC
Because of the rising cases in New York City, officials recommended Monday that residents of the five boroughs take increased precautions as the city enters a higher coronavirus (COVID-19) alert level.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced Monday morning that the alert level had been raised to medium “yellow” level due to the case rate surpassing 200 per 100,000 people.
“As a practical matter, what this means for New Yorkers is that they must exercise even greater caution than they have the last few weeks,” Vasan said.
“The coming weeks will be critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and getting back to a low risk level so we can more safely enjoy our spring. And remember, the steps you take to protect yourself also protect others, especially those most vulnerable. As a city, we have the tools we need to beat back this virus.”
No new mandates have been announced, but Vasan recommended that people at high risk, including those who didn’t get the vaccine, consider additional precautions, like avoiding crowded indoor gatherings.
MORE CONTAGIOUS VARIANT
Health officials say BA.2.12.1 appears to be up to 27% more contagious than BA.2, more commonly known as the omicron variant.
An NBC.com report says the the spread of the BA.2.12.1 variant is linked to more severe COVID illness or reduced vaccine efficacy. The report says New York state accounts for the majority of the 56 U.S. counties in which the CDC says have the highest COVID risk to the community.