NEW YORK (WABC) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor-elect Eric Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul raised concerns about the new variant of Omicron, first discovered in southern Africa.
There was a “high level of coordination going on,” said Mayor de Blasio at his morning briefing. He added that he and Governor Hochul coordinated the city and state efforts.
“There are no Omicron cases in New York City at the moment, it is very likely,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Our entire focus will be on vaccination.”
To date, 88% of adults in NYC have received at least one dose, compared with 81% of children ages 12-17. However, only 16% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 930,000 people in the city got their booster vaccinations.
In addition, the New York City Department of Health recommends wearing masks at all times in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.
“Today I am also issuing a commissioner recommendation strongly recommending that all New Yorkers wear a mask at all times, indoors and in public environments such as the grocery store, building lobbies, offices and retail stores. This includes those who who are vaccinated. ” and those who have had COVID-19. Higher quality masks can provide additional protection and masks are still required for everyone in public transportation, healthcare facilities, schools and meeting places, ”said Dr. David Chokshi, NYC health commissioner.
He also reminded everyone to get tested when traveling over the holiday weekend or when meeting with friends and family.
Meanwhile, the United States banned most travel to the United States from eight countries, including South Africa, on Monday.
Permanent residents and US citizens are not affected.
The aggressive move comes after World Health Organization researchers in Botswana discovered the new variant.
The concern is that this strain may have mutated enough to become resistant to antibodies and vaccines may not be as effective.
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United Airlines Flight 187 arrived at Newark Airport just before 7 a.m. on Monday, the last flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, carrying international passengers before the government’s travel ban.
But flights from South Africa continue.
United is one of two US airlines leaving southern Africa, and Delta is the other. Both have no plans to change their schedules in response to the ban, which does not apply to American citizens or legal permanent residents.
As United stated in a statement, “United is committed to maintaining a safe and vital link for return efforts and the transportation of essential supplies such as vaccines between Africa and the United States.”
In addition to operating five weekly flights between Newark and Johannesburg, United also plans to resume flights between Newark and Cape Town on Wednesday.
Delta operates three weekly flights between Atlanta and Johannesburg.
Under current regulations, all passengers flying to the United States must have a negative coronavirus test and non-citizens must be fully vaccinated.
Doctors in our area say vaccines and booster shots are still your best defense against the new variant.
“The vaccines are not rendered ineffective even if they are hit. So I’m very confident that the vaccines will provide some level of protection, maybe a very high level of protection, the vaccines and people will be refreshed if they are eligible, “said Dr. Jen Ashton, Editor-in-Chief for Health and Medicine and correspondent at ABC News.
“I was tested and had my negative test and I also have my vaccination certificate with me,” said Hennie Viljoen, who had traveled from South Africa. “I think that should be enough, I don’t think they should go on. We can’t go on by just locking up all of the bodies, I don’t think that’s good for the economy.”
President Joe Biden is expected to comment on the new Omicron variant later Monday.
FURTHER NEWS: Fauci says the Omicron variant will “inevitably” arrive in the US
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