New York City calls for masks, COVID-19 testing ahead of the holiday weekend; Broadway expands the mask mandate

NEW YORK (WABC) – New York City has issued a COVID-19 warning ahead of this weekend’s holiday gatherings, after two new Omicron sub-variants were identified as causing an increase in the number of cases in the central part of the state.

Health Commissioner Dr Ashwin and Essen urged residents to disguise themselves and get tested before they see family members who may be vulnerable.

“Holidays are a time of togetherness, love and contemplation,” he said. “We wish everyone a happy and especially healthy holiday. To stay safe, the Ministry of Health strongly recommends masking in public internal settings, especially in groups where the vaccine status of other people is unknown. “Certainly before you choose to remove your mask at a holiday gathering. Encourage the friends and loved ones you will see this weekend to be tested even before the gathering.”

To find a test site or where to obtain a test kit at home, visit or call 311.

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Also on Friday, the Broadway League announced the extension of the current mask requirement to the public until at least May 31, 2022, but many will no longer check the vaccine status after April 30, 2022.

“Since the resumption of performances last fall, over five million attendees have seen a show on Broadway, and the safety and security of our players, staff and audience has been our top priority,” said Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin. “Our intention is that by strictly maintaining crowd masking until at least May, we will continue this record of safety for all. And of course, we call on everyone to get vaccinated.”

This comes after New York State has identified the emergence of two subspecies of the COVID-19 Omicron BA.2 subdivision, named BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, which appear to have a 23% to 27% growth advantage % Over BA. 2.

New York has recently seen an increase in infections in the central part of the state, apparently driven by these two new sub-variations that are highly contagious, but so far there is no evidence to suggest that they cause more serious illnesses.

Both versions are sub-lineages of BA.2, which now accounts for 80.6% of COVID-19 infections in New York.

“We are alerting the public to two Omicron sub-variants that have recently emerged and are spreading rapidly in upstate New York so that New Yorkers can act quickly,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bast. “Although these sub-variations are News, the tools to fight them are not. These tools will work if anyone uses them: get completely vaccinated and strengthened, check for exposure, symptoms or travel, consider wearing a mask in public indoor spaces, and consult your healthcare provider about treatment if you notice a positive. I thank the scientists of the department for leading this effort and for those who contribute to this work throughout New York and around the world. “

During March, BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1 rose to include more than 70% prevalence in central New York and more than 20% prevalence in the neighboring Finger Lakes region.

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State health officials are urging New Yorkers to continue to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The department recommends to all New Yorkers:
– Get a full vaccine and get reinforcement when you are eligible
-Consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status
Examination following exposure, symptoms or travel
– If the corona virus, stay home and consult a healthcare provider about treatments
– Improve air ventilation or gather outdoors to reduce infection and the risk of serious illness during the upcoming Easter and Passover holidays

The State of New York State Department reminds all New Yorkers that COVID-19 still poses a public health risk to people of all ages.

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