COVID numbers tick upward in NY as BA.2 variant spreads

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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 10: New York residents walk up to a mobile COVID-19 testing van in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn on January 10, 2022 in New York City. As the Omicron variant caused weeks of extended lines and long wait times to receive tests, an increased number of test sites across the city has now drastically shortened the time it takes to find and receive a test. Photo credit Scott Heins/Getty Images

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 2,642 COVID-19 cases across New York State on Saturday, a 260% increase since a low point of 1,013 cases on March 7.

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The infection rate remains relatively low since the omicron variant skyrocketed case numbers to upwards of 70,000 per day in January, but scientists say a new subvariant of omicron, BA.2, is more infectious and spreading rapidly in the Tri-State Area.

BA.2 is more infectious than omicron, which in turn is more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19, but there is no indication that BA.2 causes more serious illness.

BA.2 currently accounts for 39% of COVID cases in New York and New Jersey. The variant has almost doubled in prevalence over the course of the last week.

"Getting the vaccine is the best way to keep yourself, your community and your loved ones safe against COVID-19," said Hochul. "We've made tremendous progress in our fight against COVID and we cannot stop now. If you have yet to get the first dose, second dose, or booster, do so today. They are free, effective, and readily available statewide."

Hochul ended New York’s indoor mask mandate for schools at the beginning of March and Mayor Eric Adams ended vaccine requirements for indoor businesses soon after. The rest of the country has also significantly relaxed pandemic restrictions since the most recent wave petered out.

Despite easing restrictions, Hochul extended New York’s pandemic state of emergency until April 15 last week.

The Biden administration says it doesn’t expect BA.2 to cause another large wave.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Scott Heins/Getty Images