Fears around the new omicron COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa and since detected in a number of countries worldwide have prompted New York City to issue a mask advisory.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi issued the health advisory Monday, recommending all residents wear a mask while indoors and in public settings.
Although the new variant has not been detected in the city, it has stoked fears about heightening the current surge in positive coronavirus cases. Rather than issue any mask mandates, de Blasio said he was focusing on getting New Yorkers vaccinated.
"Vaccination is the crucial strategy," de Blasio said. He added the advisory was a reminder of the danger posed by the new variant, as well as the increase in cases seen as we enter colder weather.
"We want to deliver a very clear and unequivocal message that everyone should be masking indoors, regardless of their vaccination status," Chokshi said. He added that unvaccinated people were seven times more likely to be infected by the virus than those who are fully vaccinated.
Currently, around 460 people are testing positive for the virus each day in Brooklyn, according to City data. 63% those eligible for the vaccine in Brooklyn are fully vaccinated, compared to the citywide average of 69%. Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights remain two of the least vaccinated neighborhoods in the city, with vaccination rates of just over 50%.
Vaccine booster shots are now available for New Yorkers ages 18 and older. The shots boost immunity from an initial vaccination series. No one will be denied a booster shot in New York, as long as they are 18 or older and received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago. For more information on third doses and booster shots click here.
The City is also offering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to any city resident who requests one. You can also request whether you want the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You can schedule an appointment by filling out this form: http://nyc.gov/homevaccine.
De Blasio has announced the City’s cash-for-vax incentive would be expanded to Somos Community Care doctors’ offices. For more Information go to: https://www.somosvaccinations.com/
Governor Kathy Hochul has now opened 198 #VaxtoSchool pop-up vaccination sites to increase vaccination rates among school-aged New Yorkers.
"Our statewide #VaxtoSchool sites make getting the COVID-19 vaccine more convenient for students and their families," Hochul said. “Parents and guardians, a great way to celebrate the holidays knowing your families have the best possible protection against COVID-19 is to get your children vaccinated. The vaccine is free, safe and widely available. Don't delay."
If you are a parent or guardian of a school-aged New Yorker, you can visit vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find a vaccine location closest to you