COVID continues surging in New York but cases appear milder

New York is continuing to see an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.

"We're not in a good place — I'm going to be really honest with you," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This is the winter surge we predicted."

But the governor said the COVID surge fueled by the omicron variant, which has raised hospitalizations, has a silver lining: many New Yorkers appear to be coming down with a less-severe form of the disease. 

"This is not the first strain of COVD-19, it is not the delta variant. People are testing positive — which is a much higher rate — but the severity of the illness is far less than we've seen before," Hochul said. "We have enough data to say right now, we can say with certainty, that the cases are not presenting themselves as severely as they could have or we had feared. So that is the silver lining, if you will."

The state reported 51,698 new positive cases, 1,637 new hospital admissions, and just over 100 new deaths.

The governor said she expects to see cases sharply rise in the coming days to reflect people's activities around the holidays. But she hopes everyone can do their part to get the pandemic under control. 

"The battle plan is clear — it lies before us and all of us are part, we all have a role to play that's really important, and I look forward to next New Year's Eve and we talk about how we at least won this phase of the war with this pandemic," Hochul said. "I'm not saying it's going to go away but how are managing it is the key thing."

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New cases of COVID-19 in New York City shot up from a daily average of about 17,000 in the week before the holidays to nearly 37,000 last week.

Across the U.S., new COVID-19 cases have tripled in the past two weeks to over 400,000 a day, the highest level on record, amid a rush by many Americans to get tested. The high infection rates and resulting worker shortages are putting a heavy burden on employers large and small. Thousands of airline flights have been canceled in recent days. Many companies have shelved return-to-work plans.

With The Associated Press.

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