NYC enters 'high' COVID alert level: 'Now is the time to double down'

People wait in line to buy theater tickets in Times Square on April 27, 2022 in New York City
People wait in line to buy theater tickets in Times Square on April 27, 2022 in New York City. Photo credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images
By , 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – New York City entered a “high” COVID-19 alert level on Tuesday as officials warned of "high community spread" putting "increasing" pressure on the health system.

The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, announced the increased alert level in a statement, just a day after warning the city was all but certain to reach the threshold for it.

“New York City has transitioned to a high COVID alert level, meaning now is the time to double down on protecting ourselves and each other by making choices that can keep our friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers from getting sick,” Vasan said in his statement.

“As a city, we have the tools to blunt the impact of this wave, including distributing tests, masks and promoting treatments,” the commissioner said. “Getting back to Low Risk depends on everyone doing their part and if we follow guidance, our forecasts anticipate this wave’s peak will not last long. What we do now can make all the difference.”

The city reached the “medium” risk level just two weeks ago. A high risk means there’s “high” community spread that’s putting “substantial pressure” on the health care system.

No new restrictions or health measures were immediately announced Tuesday, but officials said people should wear high-quality masks in all public indoor settings and crowded outdoors spaces in the city.

People should also consider avoiding higher-risk activities like crowded indoor gatherings, and gatherings should be limited to small numbers. Those at higher risk should avoid crowded settings, especially if indoors, officials said.

The city moved from a "medium" to "high" risk COVID-19 level on Tuesday.
The city moved from a "medium" to "high" risk COVID-19 level on Tuesday. Photo credit NYC.gov

Officials also urged people to get vaccinated and boosted, as well as tested if they’re symptomatic or were potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

On Monday, Vasan issued a commissioner’s advisory urging New Yorkers to wear masks in all indoor public settings.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that the city is “bolstering” its COVID-19 preparedness “as the city prepares to potentially hit a high-alert level in the coming days.”

The effort includes distributing 16.5 million additional at-home COVID-19 tests and 1 million masks at schools, libraries, cultural institutions and community organizations across all five boroughs.

Daily cases in the city are increasing and are now averaging more than 3,400 per day, according to Health Department data. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is "stable" at 9.11%.

Dr. Jay Varma, an epidemiologist who served as a pandemic adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, told 1010 WINS that over the past two months, infection rates have been rising in New York and “don’t seem to be coming down at all.”

“Unfortunately, we continue to see that this virus is a very wily and formidable threat,” Varma said.

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