New York State today recorded the highest single-day total of new Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The count of 21,027 new infections is well above the previous recorded high of 19,942 on January 14, at the absolute peak of the winter 2021 surge. That does not bode well for the winter of 2022, which is only just getting underway.
That point was underscored when NY Governor Kathy Hochul told MSNBC’s Katy Tur this evening, “The surge is here. It’s going to get worse….We know it’s going to get worse, especially after Christmas Day.”
The governor went on to observe, “We saw a 70% increase in cases from Thanksgiving to two weeks later. The same thing’s going to happen [after Christmas].”
Even before that, however, “We are seeing an increase in the number of our cases that are Omicron,” said the governor. “We went from 50 to 250 literally overnight. But we think those numbers are underreported because it takes time to sequence.” According to the New York Times, cases caused by all variants are up 56% in the past two weeks.
State data indicates that Omicron is making significant inroads against the dominant Delta variant and spreading rapidly. For the week ending November 27, Omicron accounted for 0.2% of all cases sequenced in the region. The following week, it had pushed its way to a 2% share. At the end of last week, Omicron was responsible for 13.2% of variant cases identified. That’s a 65-fold increase in just three weeks.
The average number of cases per 100,000 residents — a good barometer of spread — has increased over 48 hours this week from 56 on Tuesday to 67 on Thursday. For comparison, California’s number of cases per 100,000 is 13.1.
Already, major Broadway productions are canceling performances. The Rockettes have shut down their Christmas Spectacular through Christmas. Saturday’s Iona-Seton Hall game at Madison Square Garden has been called off. Princeton, Cornell and New York University have all switched to remote instruction.
Asked by Tur if the state would begin ordering businesses to shut down Hochul said, “Everything always depends on how severe it ends up being, but…his is not about shutting down, this is about taking precautions.”
The governor referenced the mask policy she implemented last week as a way to increase protections without closing down businesses.
“While my number one goal is to protect the health of New Yorkers,” she said, “I also want to protect the economy of New York. I don’t want this economy to shut down again…I want kids to stay in school.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” she continued. “This is so preventable.”
One change Hochul did say is in the works is changing the definition of the term “fully vaccinated” to include a booster shot.
“We’re working on that. It’s complicated.” But, she said, “I believe that should happen, and it will happen in New York.”
Watch Gov. Hochul’s MSNBC interview below.