NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — New York City health officials warned Friday that the new XBB.1.5 COVID-19 subvariant "is the most transmissible form" of the virus yet, accounting for 73% of cases in the city.
CDC variant data showed the latest omicron strain accounts for an estimated 82.7% of COVID circulating in the New York region, which also includes New Jersey, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and could represent as many as 88.2% of cases.
However, health data only goes back to the beginning of the year, and only a small percentage of positive cases go through the laborious process required to identify variations, implying that the vairant's true prevalence is likely much higher than reported.
Health officials continue to stress getting vaccinated and boosted as the "best way" to protect oneself from hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Though the variant is likely to infect people who have been vaccinated or have already had COVID, it does not appear to cause more severe illness.
City data reveal that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are incomparable to the first omicron wave in November 2021, highlighting the power of vaccination, bivalent boosting, and mitigation actions such as mask-wearing, hand-washing and routine testing.
Face masks are still recommended in New York City, regardless of vaccination status, in both indoor and busy outdoor situations, according to city, state and federal public health officials.