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