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New COVID variant is highly transmissible, responsible for over 50% of New York's cases

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Robert Guerra, a meteorologist with Task Force Koa Moana (TF KM) 20, I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), is tested for COVID-19 at the port of Malakal, Republic of Palau, July 22, 2020. Marines and Sailors with TF KM20, I MEF, are conducting engagements in the Republic of Palau from July through September 2020. Koa Moana, meaning “ocean warrior,” is designed to strengthen and enhance relationships between the U.S. and partner nations/states in the Indo-Pacific region, improve interoperability with local security establishments, and serve as a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team afloat in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s strategic and operational objectives. TF KM20 provides a unique opportunity to enhance relationships in the Republic of Palau. The Koa Moana task force has taken extensive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of U.S. service members and Palauan citizens participating in TF KM20 is an enduring priority. Prior to deploying, all exercise members participated in a three-week quarantine. After arriving in Palau, the Marines and Sailors remain quarantined for an additional 14 days. To date, all members deployed as part of TF KM20 tested negative for COVID-19. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anabel Abreu Rodriguez)
Cpl. Anabel Abreu Rodriguez
I Marine Expeditionary Force
Experts said new subvariants, including the XBB.1.5 strain, can cause COVID-19 infections even in people who are vaccinated or have recently tested positive.

The New York State Department of Health announced Monday that the COVID-19 XBB.1.5 variant is now the dominant strain in the state, accounting for more than 50% of COVID-19 infections in New York.

As COVID-19, flu and RSV cases spike across the region, clinical experts and state authorities have warned of a potential "tri-demic" if the community does not take precautions. 

Suffolk County is currently the region with the most cases outside of New York City. According to state data, 47% of hospitalizations on Long Island in the last seven days are due to complications from COVID. 

The first data show that this subvariant, derived from the Omicron variant, spreads more rapidly than other strains currently circulating, although at the moment it does not appear to be more severe than previous variants, according to the Department of Health's statement. 

Experts said the latter group of subvariants, including the XBB.1.5 strain, can cause COVID-19 infections even in people who are vaccinated or have recently tested positive, but said it was important to continue to get vaccinated as it continues to protect people against severe forms of the disease and hospitalization.

That is why to avoid catching COVID-19, the flu or other respiratory diseases, experts recommend using masks in crowded indoor spaces, getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19, washing your hands, and most importantly, staying at home if you don't feel well.

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and continue to use all available tools to keep themselves, their loved ones, and their communities safe and healthy,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

The governor urged eligible New Yorkers who have not yet received the updated COVID-19 booster vaccine to do so.

A Spanish language media outlet serving Suffolk County, New York.