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New York Governor Kathy Hochul says state "might be cresting" peak of Omicron surge as positivity rate slows down

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New York may have seen the worst of its recent Omicron winter surge, as the statewide positivity case rate has slowly begun to decrease, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. But hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the state are still on the rise and tens of thousands of cases are still being reported each day. 

"It looks like we might be cresting over that peak," Hochul said at a briefing Tuesday. "Cases are slowing down. The rate of increase is slowing down. But they are still high. We are not at the end, but I wanted to say this is, to me, a glimmer of hope. A glimmer of hope at a time we desperately need that."

On Monday, New York reported 48,686 new COVID-19 cases, averaging a 20.9% positivity rate over the prior 7 days. The state also recorded 1,642 new hospitalizations on Monday, according to the New York State Department of Health. The state also recorded 78 additional deaths on Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Hochul said that every case is "one too many." "I look forward to the day when that plummets," she said.  

Although COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase in New York, the rate of increase is slowing, Hochul said, describing the trend as "very encouraging." The governor also noted that recent hospital volume throughout the state has generally been comparable to when Delta was the dominant strain.

"It does not mean that these are empty beds," Hochul warned. "This is still a very high number of people in hospitals who need constant care, who need nurses, who need doctors, who need people to take care of them."

In New York City, which has repeatedly reported record-breaking new daily infections since Omicron became the dominant strain,the seven-day average positivity rate on Monday stood at 20.1%, down slightly from a high of 22.5% a week earlier, according to the state health department. The New York City region in total reported 27,908 new cases Monday.

Hochul said the latest downward trends will have to continue before lifting current protocols. Last week, the governor extended the state's mask mandate, which requires masking in all indoor public places unless the venue has a vaccine requirement, through at least February 1.

"I need the luxury of time," Hochul said Tuesday. "I am so looking forward to, just so you know, personally, to lift all these restrictions that were put in place for the right reasons, but I know there'll come a time."

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