OMG Omicron

Chart illustrating the Omicron surge using data from Nowcast, a model that estimates more recent proportions of circulating variants and enables timely public health action. CDC is providing weekly Nowcast estimates which will be updated every week on Tuesday.

Omicron was first detected in NYC on December 4.  Via their genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, the CDC informed that Omicron was 24.1% of cases in HHS Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands).  On December 18, Omicron hit 92% of cases in this region.

COVID Testing Surge

As Omicron surged during the holidays so did the need to get tested, so people could safely gather and travel.

With the surge in coronavirus cases linked to the highly-contagious Omicron variant, testing capacity has been stretched to the limits, especially in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. In collaboration with incoming Councilmember Lincoln Restler, State Senator Julia Salazar, NYC Parks and NYC Test and Trace, we’re excited to announce the opening of a new brick-and-mortar City testing site at McCarren Park,” stated Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.

A COVID PCR testing center opened at the McCarren Recreation Center (776 Lorimer Street) on December 27.  It will be open Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; It will be closed on Sundays and December 31 and January 1.  They are testing those who are four-years old and above.

Two pop-up sites conducting saliva tests which offer results within 24 hours were also part of the City testing site rollout.  One opened for two dates: December 27 and December 30 at the Brooklyn Expo Center (72 Noble Street) hours are: 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The other opened at Sweet Crafts Club on December 28 and 29  from 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

A mobile testing unit was parked near ACME Fish (30 Gem Street) on December 27 and 28.  Testing locations are updated weekly,  to find the latest locations go here: https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/covid-19-testing-sites/  or  here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/covid-19-testing.page .

The NYC Department of Health recommends you get tested for COVID-19: immediately if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, five days after close contact with someone while they had COVID-19, before and after attending a gathering, especially if you or any in the group are unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown, or 3–5 days after travel. 

As of December 27, the CDC shortened the isolation period for those testing positive for COVID-19 to five days. If you have no symptoms after five days you may leave your house and wear a mask around others for the next five days. For more details go to: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html  

Mandate Update:

Starting on December 27, two mandates go into effect.  One being that employees of private sector businesses are required to show proof they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Private employers are responsible for documenting the vaccination status of their employees. Businesses that do not may face fines starting at $1,000. The other mandate concerns access to dine indoors and enter gyms and indoor entertainment venues.  Now those who are 12-years old and up need to show proof of full vaccinations (two COVID-19 vaccine doses or one J & J vaccine) in order to be able to participate in those activities.

Upgrade your Masks

As Omicron is thought to be more contagious than Delta many experts are recommending that cloth masks are out and N95 or KN95 are in.  A cloth mask is capable of providing 30%–60% protection and a surgical mask is estimate to provide 40%–80% protection so if you don’t have a N95 or KN95 (which give 95% protection) wearing both a cloth and a surgical mask is an option.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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