Mayor Eric Adams Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

“We are winning,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams during Tuesday’s media briefing. He wanted the city to know where he stood on the coronavirus Omicron variant.

“We were clear from the beginning, and I don’t want anyone to get this mixed up. Our schools are going to remain open,” said Adams. “We are not going to do anything that is going to stop our children from coming into schools. We say this over and over again. So please hear me New Yorkers, our schools are going to remain open. This city is moving in the right direction. New Yorkers could be-should be proud of themselves. One of our successes and moving our city back to a positive place is that we have the highest vax rates in the nation.”

School was one of many COVID-related issues the mayor addressed this week. Adams is riding high after reports of COVID hospitalizations declining around the city. As of Jan. 15, the 7-day “confirmed and probable” average cases dropped to just over 16,000 from a high of close to 43,000 at the beginning of the new year. As of the same date, there were 496 hospitalizations compared to 1,006 at the beginning of the new year. 

“Now let me be clear, these numbers are still very high meaning community transmitted sent remains widespread, and we will need to follow these trends closely over the coming days and weeks,” said Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dave Chokshi. “I know that the Omicron wave has already affected so many families, neighbors, friends and colleagues, including some vaccinated New Yorkers who got COVID. Let’s make sure this isn’t a cause for confusion. If you are vaccinated, you’ve taken the most important step to protect yourself from severe disease. And for that, I thank you, because you also helped protect our hospitals and our health workers.” 

According to the health commissioner, the city’s most recent data shows that unvaccinated people are over eight times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated New Yorkers. Chokshi has encouraged everyone to get their boosters.

The hope of the “mildness” of the Omicron variant is based on one study published in bioRxiv for the not-for-profit Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory titled “Reduced Pathogenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant in Hamsters.” The study concludes that, while easily transmissible and having outcompeted the Delta variant, the damage done to the human body is less severe.

But it’s only one study. However, it’s still a crisis of the unvaccinated.

A “Household Pulse Survey” conducted by the U.S. Census showed that around 15% of Americans 18 and over aren’t vaccinated. Some cited distrust of the side effects of the vaccine; others weren’t recommended the vaccine or declined to get the vaccine. Two percent said they’ve had trouble obtaining the vaccine.  

In New York City, 5.8% of adults aren’t vaccinated and almost 13% of those 65 and over aren’t vaccinated. The young people are where the lack of vaccinated lies. According to the city, as of Jan. 18, 40.1% of all children between the ages of 5 and 17 are unvaccinated. That’s prone to change considering the recent implemented rules that allow young people to get vaccinated

One would also have to consider who is admitted with symptoms that eventually become COVID or who is admitted that already has COVID. At the beginning of the new year, current New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul called on hospitals to be very specific when reporting COVID numbers.

The city, and the state, and the nation are currently pushing for a return of the pre-pandemic economy and beyond.

“We have to get our city up and operating again,” said Adams. “Our economy depends on it and the safety of our families depends on it. We’re going to make smart decisions, to make sure that we’re not harmful to the future of our children and we’re not harmful to the future of this city. And we’re doing that. And we’re prepared for this moment. This is a time when we can come together as New Yorkers and make the right choices to keep us moving and trending in the right direction.”

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