Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that he will make a decision before Christmas on canceling or changing precautions for the return of the in-person New Year’s Eve celebrations to the city — as he warned of an additional “very, very big wave” in COVID-19. 19 cases amid a recent increase in them.
“We expect Omicron to be a rapid and temporary phenomenon. We expect a very, very large increase in the number of cases in the coming weeks, more than we have seen before, and then we expect it to disappear over time,” he said at a virtual news conference. . “We expect a rapid increase, and then we go the other way, things start to take off.”
De Blasio, who will step down from office at the end of the year, has repeatedly characterized the increase in cases as a “temporary reality”, predicting that “we think the outcome will be much better this time” compared to the spring. of 2020 regarding the healthcare system. to handle the wave of less severe infections from vaccines.
Asked if, given the proliferation of cases, he will make adjustments to the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations — which the mayor announced in November will be back at “full power” for vaccinated revelers — de Blasio replied that protocol before the iconic ball drop will be revealed at the end of the week.
“We will make a decision before Christmas. We are certainly looking at the new challenges we face, but this is a fully vaccinated event and it is outdoors, and those are two very, very important, favorable factors,” he said Sunday afternoon.
“We also consider that there are other ways we can go about it, even with the current rules, that could help make it even stronger, so there’s a discussion going on. We will definitely make a final decision on what to do before Christmas.”
As of Friday, New York City’s COVID-19 positivity rate, measured on a seven-day average, was 7.13, up from less than 3 percent in early December, according to city data. One hundred and sixty-two patients are in hospitals in the five boroughs, and the hospitalization rate is 1.69 per 100,000 New Yorkers — up from 1.30 per 100,000 people on Monday.
About 13 percent of coronavirus cases were of the Omicron variant, the city’s health commissioner said Thursday.
Statewide, positive test results from Friday showed 21,908 COVID-19 infections, up from the previous day’s record 21,027, Governor Kathy Hochul announced — the second time in two days the state has recorded a new top number for positive daily COVID cases.
dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, urged “vulnerable” New Yorkers such as those over 65, too young to be vaccinated or immunocompromised, to avoid crowded indoor environments — and for others to keep them in mind when taking of decisions.
“We all need to think about what we can do to protect our family, friends and neighbors who are most vulnerable to serious illness. Remember that even if you are healthy, you can still pass the virus on to someone for whom it could have serious consequences,” he said.
“My practical advice is to plan your vacation around your most vulnerable family member, whether it’s someone with a weakened immune system or a child too young to be vaccinated.”
Mayor-elect Eric Adams – who will take office in the new year and participated in de Blasio’s press conference – emphasized that he and the current mayor are on the same page on COVID-19 measures, even though he has declined to show support for Hizzoner’s private vaccine mandate for the sector, which comes into effect on December 27.
“We will make sure that everything in our power, as head of the current administration and the next administration, gives New Yorkers the resources they need to stay healthy and protected. And let’s be clear about something else: There’s no daylight between the mayor and me on that commitment,” said Adams, currently the Brooklyn borough president.
“There will also be continuity between his administration and mine, when the new year begins, so that there is no confusion or hiatus in our COVID response when I take office on Jan. 1,” he vowed. “The mayor and I are in this together, just like all of us New Yorkers are in this together.”
Meanwhile, long lines for COVID-19 tests once again formed in the five boroughs.
On Sunday morning, 167 queued at a testing site in Times Square and 131 queued for testing at a tent on Broadway and 44th Street.
“To freeze! Disturbed! This is the only way to get a test on Sunday, because Bill de Blasio has closed 20 sites!” Tom, a 47-year-old producer who lives in Chelsea, told The Post of the Times Square location. “I have mild symptoms, and I will be around friends and family and I want to be responsible.”
“I was exposed last week, so this was the only place I could find that was open on Sundays,” Danielle, a 30-year-old Manhattan resident who works in software sales, told The Post at 20 Times Square. “This was a terrible decision! There must be a better way. I should have put in more effort to find a better location. It now takes 3 days to get a PCR test back so better safe than sorry.
“Hopefully I’m taking a flight to DC to spend Christmas with family.”
Diane Birtles, a resident of England who had been visiting the Big Apple for four days, told The Post that she had waited two hours for a Pap smear on the 44th and 7th.
“I’m flying back to Manchester today so I need it today. I can’t fly without it. This is the closest to our hotel,” said Birtles, 53.
She said a test site worker told her it would take an hour for her quick test to produce a result.
“I hope so, or I won’t be flying today,” Birtles said.
Asked about long lines and slow test results in recent days, de Blasio praised the addition of more coronavirus testing sites and home testing kits, part of a six-point plan announced Thursday.
“What we are doing to alleviate some of this pressure is opening more test sites, new test sites, adding longer hours to existing test sites, we have expanded our mobile fleet so people can test on those buses,” he said. “We’ll just keep adding. … It’s just more, more, more, it’s part of how you reduce the need for people to go to some of the existing sites and spread the demand.”
dr. Ted Long, the head of the city’s coronavirus testing and tracking team, promised during the press conference that the city would open eight new physical testing sites by Tuesday, bringing the total of such sites to more than 30, adding 17 mobile sites. units by the end of the week. In the future, the city is planning many more “test sites,” Long said.