"With the new variant circulating, the best way to stay safe and prevent serious illness during the holiday season is by getting vaccinated or a booster shot," Hochul said in a statement. "With more friends and family gathering indoors this time of year, we have the tools to fight this pandemic and you can protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to get the shot, and mask up."
Two of the new cases are from Suffolk County, on Long Island, and two are from Oneida County, in central New York. Of the previous eight cases, one was in Suffolk County and seven in New York City.
The state Health Department's Wadsworth Center confirmed the variant cases through gene sequencing of testing samples from the patients.
Hochul said none of the four latest cases was related to a three-day anime festival in New York City in November, which a Minnesota man who later tested positive for the omicron variant attended.
"While public health experts are still learning more about this new variant, we continue to encourage all New Yorkers to take precautions against COVID-19," Dr. Mary Bassett, the acting health commissioner, said in a statement. "Get vaccinated, get a booster if you are already fully vaccinated, and continue to wear your mask."
This colorized scanning electron micrograph shows a cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (green). SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. (Courtesy of NIAID/NIH)
With The Associated Press.