Says discovery reinforces need for New Yorkers to get vaccinated, get boosted & wear a mask
√ Rising cases continue to be traced to delta variant
Gov. Kathy Hochul today announced the detection of three more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant in New York, for a total of eight confirmed cases. Her team said, “So far, the cases appear unrelated and have been confirmed through sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. All three of the new cases are from New York City, for a total of seven New York City residents, and one from Suffolk County, confirmed to have the omicron variant.”
Hochul said, "We knew the omicron variant was coming and we expect to see more cases. But let me be clear: We are not defenseless. We have the tools to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus: Get your vaccine, get your booster, and wear your mask. Let's use these tools to protect ourselves and our loved ones as we approach the holidays."
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "The omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread. We continue to work closely with our partners at the national, state and local levels. At this time, we do not know how quickly omicron will spread or how severe the symptoms of omicron will be. What we are seeing is that the rise of cases across New York state continues to be traced to the delta variant. We encourage all New Yorkers to use the best preventative tools we have: Get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask."
Three of the omicron cases were identified at Mt. Sinai, three cases were identified at the pandemic response lab (PRL), one case was confirmed by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Suffolk County case was identified by PRL on Dec. 2. While all of these cases are believed to be unrelated to the recent Anime NYC convention at the Javits Center, the department still urges anyone who attended to get tested for COVID-19 and wear a mask in public places.
New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center Laboratory continues to actively monitor COVID-19 virus samples selected throughout the state to compare sequences and identify circulating and new variants, including omicron.
The department also monitors all data submitted to public sequence databases by the many other sequencing laboratories throughout the state and across the U.S., contributing to a “robust and collaborative surveillance program for variant analysis.” The Wadsworth Center is currently sequencing COVID-19 virus specimens with a capacity up to approximately 100 per day. Specimens are selected at random from throughout the state to provide surveillance across all geographic locations, and data analyzed across the entire sequence of the virus. The analyses include assessment for mutations that indicate variants of concern and variants of interest.
Other laboratories in New York are conducting similar work. These results from Wadsworth and other laboratories are uploaded into public databases, primarily GISAID. From this database, sequence data from all contributors can be downloaded and analyzed for a more complete picture of virus trends across the state, and the distribution of variants from these analyses summarized over time. The state has made this data available for all New Yorkers at its COVID-19 variant page.