“We’ve never seen this before.”

Groups of people line up to get tested for Covid-19 in Times Square on December 5, 2021 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

New York’s Covid-19 infection rate has doubled in just three days as the city battles a viral wave ahead of the holidays, Dr. Jay Varma, chief health adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, tweeted Thursday.

“Um, we’ve never seen this before in #NYC” He wrote

From December 9 to December 12, the percentage of positive tests in the city increased from 3.9% to 7.8%. “This # SARS-CoV-2 – evasion of immunity against infection induced by the vaccine and the virus, unlike any of the previous options, ”added Varma.

However, he noted that about 67,000 PCR tests are performed every day in New York, more per capita than many other communities or cities across the country. In addition, the data provided by the city has a lag of about three days, which means that the current rates of positivity may be higher and the data from previous days may still be adjusted.

Positivity rates increase as the omicron variant spreads. In accordance with CDC data released Wednesday, New York and New Jersey are the two states with the fastest spread of the newly identified variant. Data shows that 13.1% of cases in the CDC region, which includes New York and New Jersey, have an omicron, compared with a national average of 2.9%.

“Omicron is here in New York and is spreading rapidly,” Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, Commissioner for the New York City Department of Health, said at the meeting. News conference Thursday.

De Blasio and his health advisers at a briefing raised concerns ahead of the holiday season. Testing demand has skyrocketed after several major events, including the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend.

“We are seeing a surge ahead of the holidays,” Chokshi said. “I really expect the number of cases to increase in the coming days,” he added.

The omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa at the end of November and quickly spread around the world. In the UK now dominant strain and the country recorded the largest daily number of new cases since the pandemic began on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Thursday, de Blasio announced that the city will increase its testing capacity in the future. “This means that the mobile sites we talked about will see more in all five districts, but we will also double the number of our regular sites,” he said.

De Blasio said the opening hours and capacity of existing fixed sites will increase even as new sites are added.

Nevertheless, the mayor stressed, vaccination is the best way to protect against omicron and serious diseases. “Don’t wait, do the booster now,” he said.

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