Medical Technology

With Omicron in ‘Full force,’ NYC to Hand Out Masks, Tests

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NEW YORK (AP) -Alarmed by the rapid increase in cases of COVID-19 and the rising prevalence of the Omicron variant, New York City officials will give out one million masks and 500,000 at-home tests Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

The mass distributions are part of a broader strategy to stop the spread of the virus. This also includes making testing more easily accessible via more sites and extended hours.

Governor of the state also said that an online portal will be created where residents could request targeted at-home testing.

While only a few instances of the omicron variant have been confirmed in the city federal health officials estimate that it is responsible for around 13% of cases of the virus in the region which includes New York and New Jersey.

De Blasio stated that it was clear that omicron is “in all forces” and is spreading.

“This version is fast. We must move faster,” the mayor said at a news briefing in Brooklyn.

New York reported nearly 18,300 cases of the virus on Wednesday. This is the third highest amount of cases since COVID-19 testing was made widely accessible to the public in the spring of 2020. Nearly 83,000 people tested positive for the virus over the seven days that ended on Wednesday, the highest number since January 2017.

New York City was largely spared the worst of the significant increase in COVID-19-related cases across the northeastern and central U.S.S.S.S.S.S.S. cases since Thanksgiving. However the situation has been rapidly changing in recent days.

One million N95 masks are to be distributed free of charge through the city’s Test & Trace Corps and clinics and community-based groups. Mayor says that the mayor will distribute 500,000 at-home free tests through community groups.

The plan also includes a more rigorous level of inspections of businesses to ensure compliance with vaccine requirements, and a media campaign to promote booster shot.

Dr. Dave Chokshi, City Health Commissioner, stated that he expects cases to increase in the coming days based on the trends we’re seeing from countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Chokshi was issuing an updated advisory outlining steps New Yorkers should take to limit the spread of the virus.

De Blasio said it’s possible that they’ll change their plans to allow a crowd into Times Square this New Year’s Eve. He also stated that those who attend must show proof of COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday an online portal would allow New Yorkers to request tests at home, and there will be targeted areas based on criteria, such as having the lowest amount of people vaccinated and higher case rates.

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