Coronavirus in the USA: Omikron paralyzes New York

As of: 12/28/2021 02:34 a.m.

Bars stay empty, but the queues at test stations are growing: The number of infections in New York is increasing rapidly thanks to Omikron. Mayor de Blasio has now introduced a mandatory vaccination for all employees.

By Antje Passenheim, ARD-Studio New York

New York Governor Kathy Hochul doesn’t want to stir up panic: We have to admit that the number of cases is increasing. But that doesn’t really surprise us. “

Antje Passenheim
ARD-Studio New York

They are rising explosively, especially in the city of New York. The speed at which Omikron is spreading paralyzes the city, which has just been so close to normal. Statistics services report that almost every twelfth resident is infected. But because of the holidays, the new numbers are only slowly coming in. There were more than 15,000 new infections on Christmas Eve alone. The numbers have tripled within a week.

The situation in the clinics remains relatively relaxed, says Hochul. “Although the number of Covid deliveries is increasing, we can comfort ourselves: We are not where we were in spring 2020 or in January of this year. But it is going up.”

More children in the hospital

The Omicron infections have usually been milder than others. Worrying, however: More and more children with corona infections are being admitted to New York hospitals, warns Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. “Last Friday data shows that the state’s numbers have increased from 70 to two and a half times since December 11, while in New York City they have increased nearly five-fold.” From 22 to 109. About half of the small patients are younger than five years.

Unlike everyone else in the United States, children in this age group are not allowed to be vaccinated. But only a quarter of the older children brought in were vaccinated. Bassett appeals to pediatricians to be vigilant: “And we want to alert parents. Many people still do not believe that children can get Covid. That is not true: children become infected and some have to be hospitalized for it.”

Bad memories of 2020

Of the city’s more than eight million inhabitants, 72 percent have been fully vaccinated so far. A third of them already have a booster vaccination. Nevertheless, nervousness is spreading among New Yorkers. And memories of spring 2020, when the first corona wave made the city the epicenter.

“I wouldn’t say I’m scared, but I’m worried,” says a man standing in line for a test in Midtown Manhattan. The New Yorkers are simply annoyed. They were so close to normal again, he says. Now everything is turning back again.

The first bars and restaurants have closed, others remain empty. The lights stay off in more and more shows on Broadway. The recently revived sidewalks are almost as empty in many places as they were a year ago. More and more people are now putting their masks outside again – including a passer-by: “I’m afraid because this variant is so highly contagious. It’s pretty unsettling how things are coming to a head again.”

First city with mandatory vaccination for all employees

In contrast, the first test stations have opened in several subway stations. At the same time, the transport companies are preparing passengers for fewer trains to run – because more and more employees are absent due to Covid.

The outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio got serious right at the beginning of the week: New York was the first city in the USA to introduce compulsory vaccinations for all employees – including in the private sector. Employers have to document this. Violations can result in a fine of $ 1,000 and up.

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