New York health officials are advising people to wear masks when in crowded public areas, as coronavirus cases are expected to spike following Labor Day weekend.
While no official social distancing or mask restrictions were set in place, New York City health commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan told the Daily Mail that people should follow precautions when celebrating the end of summer, as the city’s hospitalization rate for the coronavirus rose by five percent this week compared to the previous week; 502 patients infected with the virus were admitted to hospitals.
“As cases rise, precautions become increasingly important, especially for our most vulnerable New Yorkers who are older, disabled, or have underlying health conditions,” Vasan said. “Staying up to date with Covid vaccines, along with other proven prevention tools — like masking, testing, and staying home when sick — continues to be our best defense against Covid and other respiratory viruses.”
These warnings come as two new variants of the coronavirus were detected: EG.5, called Eris, and BA.2.86, dubbed Pirola, which was found in New York City’s wastewater. Pirola causes concern, as it has more than 30 mutations, deeming it better at dodging vaccines and those with immunity. It is unknown if this strand causes a rise in mortality rate.
In addition to New York, the Pirola strand has been detected in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.
In Los Angeles, the positive testing rate for the coronavirus increased by 16.5 percent for the seven-day average ending August 26, according to public health data. Mask mandates in hospital settings and other indoor high risk settings ended in April, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, according to Barbara Ferrer, the director of L.A. County’s Department of Health, mask mandates could possibly be reintroduced.
“There’s not that level of certainty with this pandemic,” Ferrer said. “I’m never going to say there’s not going to be a time when we all need to put our masks back on. [But] I am going to say we certainly don’t all need to put our masks back on now.”
Nationwide, hospitalizations related to the coronavirus are at a 21.6 percent increase, according to week-to-week data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NBC News reported. However, the current level of hospitalizations is a third of what it was a year ago.
The most updated vaccine booster is expected to be approved by a CDC advisory panel scheduled to meet on September 12, but it is uncertain if this recent round of the vaccine booster will be effective against the two new variants detected.