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Omicron subvariant BA.5 fueling COVID surge across country

NYC handing out COVID tests as cases surge
NYC handing out COVID tests as cases surge 02:10

NEW YORK -- The highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.5 is behind a surge of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S., and, for many, these cases are re-infections.

The Centers for Disease Control says it now accounts for most of all new cases in the country.

As CBS2's John Dias reported Thursday, New York City is fighting back.

As the seemingly never ending pandemic rages on, the Big Apple has added extra reinforcements. It is now passing out, by request, 35,000 additional free at-home tests per month in 57 new locations -- at parks and pools.

In a statement, Mayor Eric Adams said the tests help to " ... give New Yorkers answers and reassurance within minutes..."

READ MORENew York launches new COVID hotline for people with questions about treatment

"I think people should still be cautious and careful, get tested regularly," said Cynthia Liu of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

But some people are pointing out what at-home tests won't give, accurate data, since these results are not automatically reported.

"I personally, when I got COVID, I took an at-home and never a PCR test," Williamsburg's Kayla Mann said.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City's testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

AVOID THE LINES: Click here for NYC Health+Hospitals testing wait times

The seven-day average percentage of positive test results in New York is on the rise. The city is slightly over 15 percent and numbers from July 12 show Long Island hitting nearly 11 percent. Overall, the state is at more than 9 percent.

Health officials say the new subvariant BA.5 now accounts for 65 percent of all new COVID cases in the country.

"The most contagious subvariant of COVID-19 we are encountering right now. It's a surge," Dr. Aftab Khan said.


Khan says those who were previously infected, or vaccinated and boosted, can still contract this new subvariant, but it's those unvaccinated that need to worry the most about getting severally ill or hospitalized.

"Nationally, hospitalization has doubled. The CDC has to change is guidelines. There has to be a mask mandate for indoor gatherings," Khan said.

The CDC and Food and Drug Administration may soon update their guidance on boosters for all Americans.

Over the last six months, the city has also distributed about 35 million at-home tests to schools and participating community organizations.

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