‘We never seen this before’: Omicron fears spark huge testing lines across the city

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New York City is being hammered by another Covid surge, with new daily cases jumping 26 percent and the daily positivity rate doubling over the course of only three days, with the Omicron variant to blame for the worsening spike. 

Jay Varma, senior public health advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, described the situation as a rarity on Twitter Thursday. 

‘Um, we’ve never seen this before in NYC. Test positivity doubling in three days,’ he said.

He then revealed the city’s positivity rate from December 9 to December 12, and that it doubled from 3.9 percent to 7.8 percent.

‘Note: Test % is only for PCR & NYC does more per capita daily than most places ~67K PCR/day + 19K [reported] antigen over past few days,’ he added. 

The city is also now recording 53.75 new Covid cases per every 100,000 residents every day, according to official data – a 26 percent increase from  the 42.59 figure being reported only two days ago.

Varma also said that 7.8 percent of Covid tests in the city were coming back positive on December 12, a two-fold increase from the 3.9 percent figure recorded only three days earlier.

While it will take around a week to find out how many of these cases are of the Omicron or Delta virus strains, either way, cases are spiking in America’s densest city at a rate not seen previously.

CDC experts have previously estimated that 13 per cent of new COVID infections in NYC and neighboring New Jersey are being caused by Omicron – way above the national average of around four per cent. Both states are now set to become the epicenter for COVID in the US for the second time, and offer the rest of the US an insight of what to expect in the coming weeks. 

Long Covid testing lines have returned as New Yorkers flock to discover whether they have the virus, despite the city being 81.5 per cent fully-vaccinated, with 16.5 per cent of residents also having their booster.  

This surge also comes just 11 days before strict mandates announced by de Blasio earlier this month go into effect on December 27, and days after a new statewide mask order began enforcement on Monday.

Nearly 8% of Covid tests in New York City are coming back positive, a figure that doubled over a three day span from December 9 to December 12. Pictured: New Yorkers line up for a Covid test in Times Square on December 16

During the week that ended December 5, the most recent data available from the city, 804 out of every 100,000 unvaccinated New Yorkers tested positive for the virus (purple) and 97 of every 100,000 vaccinate residents (orange)

During the week that ended December 5, the most recent data available from the city, 804 out of every 100,000 unvaccinated New Yorkers tested positive for the virus (purple) and 97 of every 100,000 vaccinate residents (orange)

Jay Varma, senior public health advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, described the sharp increase of positivity rate as something unseen before in New York City

Jay Varma, senior public health advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, described the sharp increase of positivity rate as something unseen before in New York City

New York City was the first place in the U.S. to get hammered by the original Covid wave back in March of 2020, and the situation in the city proved to be a sign of things to come for everyone else.

The unprecedented rise in cases in the over recent days could also be a sign to the rest of the nation how quickly the Omicron variant can spread – and how brutal a winter it may be for the U.S.

The city is currently averaging 2,900 cases every day, and the state as a whole have sequenced 50 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant -only trailing Texas.

Unvaccinated people are being hit especially hard by this surge, with official city data showing that 804.46 out of every 100,000 testing positive for the virus during the week that ended on December 5 – nearly doubling from 415.99 cases per 100,000 a week earlier.

According to city data, 96.81 our of every 100,000 vaccinated residents tested positive that week again, which is still a very high figure even for unvaccinated people.

Omicron also accounts for around one percent of sequenced cases from the city, the department reports, although the CDC estimates that the true figure is 13 times higher. NY city officials also say says that ten percent of new cases in the city are being sequenced.

The city reports that 90 percent of adult New York City residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 82 percent are fully vaccinated.

New York City’s health department told DailyMail.com that over 1.5 million residents had received a booster as of Thursday afternoon, which is around 18 percent of the city’s total population.

Early data on the Omicron variant, which was first discovered in late November by South African officials, shows that it can evade protection provided by the initial vaccine regimens.

Both Pfizer and Moderna – manufacturers of the U.S.’s most popular vaccines – both revealed data showing their booster shots do re-establish protection against the variant.

With more than four out of every five New Yorkers un-boosted, a vast majority of the city is vulnerable to Omicron. With many also protected from Delta by the vaccine, the stage is set for the new strain to become dominant in the city.

The surge in cases comes just as a new in-door mask mandate goes into effect across the state.

Starting Monday, New Yorkers are required to wear a mask in all in-door public spaces that do not require proof of vaccine to enter.

Even stricter measures are coming to the city in two weeks as well. At the start of December, Mayor de Blasio announced a private sector vaccine mandate and new requirements to enter some venues starting on December 27.

Starting then, all private sector employees who are working in-person must be fully vaccinated to continue on-site work. 

Also, anyone over the age of five must show proof of being fully vaccinated – two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna shots or one shot of the J&J vaccine – to enter dining, fitness or entertainment venues.

The mayor will leave office a few days later on January 1, though, and his successor, Eric Adams, has not yet said whether he plans to leave the mandate in place.

Nationwide, cases numbers are continuing to grow as well, and this may only be the start of an Omicron fueled Covid wave.

As of Thursday afternoon, the U.S. is recording 121,188 new cases and 1,302 deaths every day – increases of 40 percent and 34 percent respectively over the past two weeks.

The Omicron variant accounted for 2.9 percent of new Covid cases last week, up seven fold from only two weeks before.

Experts believe the variant will be the nation’s dominant Covid strain anywhere from within the next few weeks to the next few months.

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