Covid News: Omicron variant appears to be spreading rapidly in Washington state

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Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Starting Monday, when New Yorkers hit a store for a quick purchase, they will again need to make sure they have a face mask. A new statewide mandate requires masks in all indoor public spaces that do not require proof of full coronavirus vaccination for entry.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the mandate on Friday, which is in effect until Jan. 15, when the state will reassess. Companies that don’t require customers to be masked could face civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $ 1,000 per violation, and local health departments are responsible for enforcement.

New York City, with 71% of its residents fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, already requires proof of at least one dose of vaccination against the coronavirus to eat inside a restaurant or see a movie. But now masks will also be necessary unless full vaccination is mandatory in these and all other indoor public places, including offices, shops and halls of residential buildings.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second injection of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose vaccine or the first injection of Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, according to state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children aged 5 to 11 statewide will only need to show a single dose to be admitted to places requiring full immunizations, the state said.

Considering that former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo lifted most virus-related restrictions in June, including the requirement to wear masks in most settings, the new term is likely to be a big change, in especially in some rural and more conservative areas of the state.

the new measure comes at a time when the nation is facing a peak in Covid-19 cases, and scientists are unsure of the effect of the arrival of the Omicron variant. The seven-day average of new Covid cases in the United States on Saturday was 119,325 per day, a 40% increase in just 14 days. In New York state, the average was 9,716 on Saturday, a 51% jump in 14 days.

New York City has also seen a sharp increase in cases since Thanksgiving, with an average of over 2,600 new cases per day, according to city data, up from an average of less than 1,500 per day three weeks ago, according to city data. Areas of upstate New York are hit even harder, with some 30 upstate hospitals ordered by the governor to suspend elective surgeries to ease the pressure.

A handful of county executives, many of whom are Republicans in the upstate, have been skeptical of the mandate, some even swear not to apply it. Ms Hochul addressed them on Monday, saying: “I encourage county leaders, especially those who ask me for help, to help alleviate the crisis they are going through in their health systems, to look into their own actions and see what else. they can do to be a better partner. She noted, “It’s self-induced, in a sense.”

On Sunday, during a briefing in Hamburg, western New York Regarding the damage and power outages caused by the storms the night before, Ms Hochul was asked about the mask’s warrant.

“Just wear a mask,” Ms. Hochul said, adding, “I know tomorrow is a big day; this is not necessarily a big problem. It really is not. I’m just asking people to do something common sense, which we believe will help save lives and ultimately reduce infections. “

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s senior advisor on the pandemic, has also strongly urged people to wear masks whenever they are indoors with people whose vaccine status is not known.

“The hiding will not be forever,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, “but it can get us out of the very difficult situation we find ourselves in right now.”

New York City had previously planned to tighten the rules for dining and entertainment for children ages 5 to 11 from Tuesday to get a fix to get into restaurants and theaters, and for adults to leave. of December 27 to switch from one dose of vaccine to two except for those who initially received the Johnson & Johnson single injection vaccine. Corn the new mandate of the state overrides these two rules for the time being.

A broad coronavirus vaccination mandate for all private employers in New York City goes into effect on December 27.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday the city plans to educate and work with business owners as the new state mask mandate rolls out, instead of focusing on fines and application. For weeks, he resisted calls to implement a city-wide mask mandate despite the increase in cases, fearing it would weaken the city’s vaccination strategy.

“The city’s strategy has been vaccination first and foremost, and this will continue to be the case,” de Blasio said at a press briefing on Monday. “But we will work with the state to implement this mask mandate. What we have found is that when we communicate with companies, treat them with respect and a spirit of cooperation, we get a really good result.

Grace Ashford contributed reports.


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