Early estimates indicate new strain able to spread more rapidly than other variants currently circulating
√ NYS DOH: New Yorkers 6 months and older should receive their bivalent booster and flu shot; follow simple precautions – wash hands, keep surfaces clean, let fresh air in, consider wearing masks, stay home when sick
√ To prevent severe illness, COVID-positive New Yorkers without a provider can call 1-888-TREAT-NY or visit NYS COVID-19 Express Care Therapeutics Access website for a free clinical evaluation & medication; find nearby locations for free COVID-19 and flu shots at vaccines.gov
The New York State Department of Health on Friday updated New Yorkers on the XBB.1.5 variant, which now makes up over 50% of coronavirus cases in New York. Based on samples sequenced and uploaded into the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), the world's largest database for COVID-19 variant data, the XBB.1.5 variant is the predominant strain in the state.
"Since it emerged, the COVID-19 virus continues to change," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The new bivalent booster has been updated to address these changes, which is why it is so important that all New Yorkers 6 months and older get the important protection it offers. The booster provides significant protection against getting very sick or being hospitalized, and according to the latest data from CDC, those who received the bivalent booster were more than 18 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated people."
A press release said, “Emerging at a time when both COVID-19 and flu cases are high, early data indicate that XBB.1.5 is able to spread more rapidly than other currently circulating variants. While at this stage there is not yet clear evidence of significant changes to virulence or severity of disease, the department reminds all New Yorkers to take precautions to protect themselves and loved ones against a fast-moving strain.”
It recommends the following:
The press release added, “With respiratory viruses spreading, individuals who live, care, or are around someone who is at risk of becoming very ill (including children under 1 year of age, adults over 65 years of age, or those with a compromised immune system) should be especially vigilant with mask-wearing, with scientific evidence supporting this simple, precautionary measure.
“To prevent severe illness and hospitalization, COVID-positive New Yorkers should seek safe medication or treatment, which are most effective when taken within the first few days symptoms appear.”
New Yorkers who do not have a regular doctor can call the state's hotline at 1-888-TREAT-NY (1-888-364-3065) or visit the NYS COVID-19 Express Care Therapeutics Access website for a free telehealth appointment with a medical provider, who will review symptoms and prescribe either Paxlovid or Molnupiravir.
To schedule a free COVID-19 vaccine, bivalent booster, or flu shot appointment, visit vaccines.gov, text a ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233. At vaccines.gov, after entering a 5-digit ZIP Code, New Yorkers can click "Updated Vaccines" and select the bivalent booster type by age they are seeking to book an appointment for themselves or their children 6 months and older. New Yorkers can also reach out to a health care provider, local pharmacy, or county health department about vaccine appointment availability.
To learn more about COVID-19 variants, New Yorkers can visit the department's dedicated variant webpage here.