NY shortens quarantine for essential workers amid dramatic increase in cases – Telemundo New York (47)

New York changed its COVID return-to-work policies for essential personnel in the face of the record rise in infections and the threatening spread of the omicron variant.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the new guidelines on Friday. Essential workers who are vaccinated will be able to return to work five days after testing positive. Those not vaccinated must remain in isolation for ten days, said the president.

That window of 40 applies to essential workers who are fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic, as well as fully vaccinated workers who had mild symptoms but were fever-free for 72 hours, Hochul said. Everyone should wear masks.

“Employers can allow healthcare professionals and other critical members of the workforce who have had COVID-19 to return after five days if they are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic,” the governor said.

The president noted that the new guideline also applies to other essential workers, such as those in grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, transportation and health.

The fit incorporates the latest CDC guidance, which shortened its recommended isolation window for healthcare workers a day ago, and milder omicron infections. Many of these workers who tested positive show no or mild symptoms and do not need medical treatment to recover.

Hospital managers, including the director of the nation’s largest public health care system, Dr. Mitchell Katz of NYC Health + Hospitals, fear staffing shortages amid an influx of infected patients.

“We’re focused on making sure people can get back to work,” Hochul said, noting that omicron’s circumstances are different from the unique threats posed by the delta variant.

“This is a very, very contagious variant,” the president acknowledged. “This is not delta. It is omicron, which so far has shown that it is not as severe in its impact. This is not the same situation we had in March 2020 or even the increase from last winter. We have had more tests. We have had more chances”.

Still, hospitalizations, especially among the unvaccinated, continue to rise, Hochul said, and his main concern is having enough hospital staff to treat them.

The governor’s hospitalization update on Friday included a 5% day-to-day increase in hospitalizations, which have now surpassed 4,700 and are at their highest levels since mid-March. The 4,744 total is still well below the 7,000 New Yorkers who were hospitalized with COVID around this time last year, Hochul said.

The last recent record for daily deaths in the state was around 71 (Hochul added 69 on Friday), and while some of the rising hospitalizations could increase the death count, daily death rates thankfully remain below devastating highs. from the peaks of the pandemic, when 800 New Yorkers died every 24 hours. Both of these metrics need to be closely monitored, Hochul said.

Despite how drastic the numbers have been in recent days, Thursday’s report from the state is still concerning: 38,835 positive tests in just one day, an increase of 10,000 from the previous day. Of those, 22,208 were in New York City alone according to the state’s account, orders of magnitude greater than anything the city or state faced before omicron (although a real comparison to the number of cases during the initial surge in COVID in spring 2020 is impossible because testing was limited).

In simpler terms, in the last week alone, about 1% of all New York City residents and 1% of all New York State residents have tested positive for COVID.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that with the tools available to help prevent and fight COVID-19, “there really is no need to panic.”

New York, like many states, has had hourly lines for COVID testing amid growing national demand. Hochul says the state has sent 600,000 tests to New York City in the last 48 hours alone and is working to bring in more direct resources.

Five more test sites will open next week, one in each municipality. The state has also launched 37 new pop-ups and plans 17 more in New York City.

Ultimately, officials say the vaccines will quell increases in hospitalizations and deaths associated with omicron, and those metrics are of much greater concern to them than infections alone. That is why they urge calm at this time, and promote vaccines and doses of COVID boosters for those who must receive them.

Hochul has been adamant that there will be no new COVID-related shutdowns in New York amid the rapid spread of omicron, and while he acknowledges that the variant seems more adept at evading vaccine protection when it comes to infections, the data states show that this is not true of the most serious cases.

The first case of omicron in the United States was reported on December 1. The variant took less than three weeks to establish its dominance in the country. United and Delta airlines have been forced to cancel vacation flights due to high staff infections and hospital managers say they are concerned about staff shortages for similar reasons, and far more than they are concerned about the influx of sick people.

The sheer infectivity of omicron alone is putting essential workers out of the game, and nowhere is transmissibility more apparent than in the New York area.

The CDC estimates that more than 90% of current cases in the New York area, one that for its genomic surveillance purposes includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, are the omicron strain. That’s a 25% increase last week.

As Hochul said this week, the winter surge is upon us and New Yorkers should expect the cases to continue to rise. But they can also hope to reduce their chances of serious COVID-related illness through vaccinations and boosters.

Ninety-five percent of all New York adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Hochul said Friday. She called that a milestone.

“The best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is protection against COVID-19,” added the governor. “Encourage your friends and family to do their part, wear masks and be careful when in closed public spaces. Let’s get over this and have a safe and healthy Christmas season.”

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