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Weekly coronavirus update: New Yorkers required to mask up; 3rd Connecticut Omicron case detected

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Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Governor Kathy Hochul will issue a new mask mandate for businesses or venues that don’t have a vaccination policy. Starting on Monday, New Yorkers must wear masks when entering these sites.

Businesses that have a policy can accept proof of vaccination including paper CDC vaccine cards, or the digital Excelsior pass. Local health departments can fine noncompliant businesses up to $1,000 for each violation.

Governor Ned Lamont has not committed to any new mandates. However, he said Connecticut will institute a voluntary COVID-19 vaccination verification system by the end of the year.

This week in coronavirus news

New York City has imposed a vaccine mandate for all private companies, starting Dec. 27.

Two more cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant have been confirmed in Suffolk County. There are now 12 Omicron cases in New York. Connecticut also detected nine more Omicron variant cases in the state. That brings the total to 11. The nine individuals ranged from 20 to 85 years old. Seven of them were fully vaccinated.

On Long Island, the seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate remains about 6%.

Connecticut’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate this week also increased to about 6% after hitting a daily infection rate of 8% on Tuesday, which is the highest since January.

Nearly 77% of the 576 Connecticut patients hospitalized with COVID-19 by Friday were not fully vaccinated. State data released on Thursday showed the unvaccinated are five times more likely to catch COVID-19 and 12 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Since Thanksgiving, hospitalizations in New York have increased by 29%, according to state data released Friday. While more New Yorkers continue to get fully vaccinated — that number is up 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to now — health officials said the “uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage.”

About two-thirds of residents in Connecticut nursing homes and long term care facilities have received COVID-19 booster shots. Just over a fifth of nursing home staff who are eligible have gotten one.

Elective surgeries slash hospital revenues

Hospitals and health care systems in Connecticut have lost a major amount of income during the pandemic, but most have remained profitable, according to a new report from the state Office of Health Strategy.

Operating revenue for hospitals was $41 million by September 30, a drop of 93% compared to gains made in the previous fiscal year.

The report said that was due to fewer patients getting elective inpatient and outpatient procedures.

Travel costs recovered

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has received more than 1,000 complaints from consumers who have had their travel plans disrupted by COVID-19. His office has helped them recover almost $2 million.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.