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With COVID Numbers Climbing Again Across Tri-State Area, Officials Again Push For People To Get Vaccinated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - COVID cases are rising across the Tri-State Area, and so are hospitalizations.

CBS2's Jessica Moore took a look at the numbers and the various approaches to stifle the growth of the virus.

Leaders in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now dealing with a triple threat: The Omicron variant, more time indoors over the next few months, and holiday gatherings. Unless more people get vaccinated, we could be looking at another significant wave of COVID cases.

"Here's some breaking news. As of today, 70% of all New York City residents are fully vaccinated. That's a very big deal," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

That good news was eclipsed by the most recent data, showing New York City reported 2,050 new COVID cases on Tuesday. New York state reported 8,200 new case this month, more than double last month's 3,400. New Jersey reported 4,100 new case, compared to 3,200 last month. In Connecticut, cases nearly doubled month to month, with 1,900 new cases.


Hospitalizations are also up, with 3,400 in New York state and 113 in the city.

"Talk to anybody who works in the ER and they'll tell you disproportionately, overwhelmingly, it's unvaccinated people coming in. They'll also tell you they're exhausted and depleted, so we have to help them," said Councilman Mark Levine.

Doctors say this spike is driven by the Delta variant.

"The problem is it's actually spreading as well in people who get primarily vaccinated, the full vaccination more than six months ago, so this speaks to the importance of getting the word out about boosters," said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

When it comes to the Omicron variant, boosters are also key.

"The booster shot could be the answer to the challenge that we are facing with the Omicron," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Watch Jessica Moore's report --

New data from Pfizer shows its booster increased protection 25-fold against the Omicron variant compared to the initial two doses.

"For folks who got boosted, who got the primary vaccine and then the booster six months later, there was a substantial degree of antibodies that worked against Omicron," Elnahal told CBS2's Dick Brennan.

De Blasio confirmed eight cases of the Omicron variant in New York, and says community transmission is already happening.

Starting Dec. 14, New York City kids 5-11 will have to show proof of vaccination to dine indoors or see a movie.

The mayor brought in reinforcements to defend his new requirement that all private sector employees get at least one dose of the vaccine by Dec. 27, a mandate currently being challenged in court.

"By making the rules the same across the board regardless where you work, if businesses are in this together, all of us will be safer for it," said Dr. Celine Gounder, assistant professor of medicine and infectious disease at NYU. "COVID is bad for business."

A New York holiday staple comes back Saturday -- SantaCon. West Siders who spoke to CBS2 hope the sometimes rowdy bar crawlers don't become super spreaders.

"We love to see the city covered in all the Santa Clauses coming from everywhere, but also, you know, we do have the Omicron variant," Posh McKoy said.

"As long as people keep getting their shots, I don't really care. Just be safe. Don't b e stupid," one woman said.

Safe or stupid, places like Scallywag's will be ready.

"Are you concerned that some people are gonna try to get in without being vaccinated?" Brennan asked manager Catherine Lynch.

"You know someone's going to try to get in, but they won't get in 'cause we'll have someone on the door, and they can't come in unless they're vaccinated," Lynch said.


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy - whose state saw 1,324 hospitalizations and 29 deaths over the past month - says 72% of residents are fully vaccinated, but only 34% have gotten booster shots.

"Our numbers across the board are roughly a third of what they were a year ago at this time, thanks to vaccines, I might add. But keeping healthcare strong to care for COVID patients and those with other needs remains of paramount concern," Murphy said.

Connecticut reported 525 hospitalizations last month. Even so, Gov. Ned Lamont remains hopeful.

"If before we had to restrict access to big groups getting together, I don't see that as being necessary this time around," Lamont said.

Parents in the city can now add their kids' vaccination information to their own NYC COVID Safe app to make dining out easier.

With only 20% of 5-11-year-olds vaccinated, the mayor is pushing to increase that rate to avoid school disruptions.

Meanwhile, it appears the importance of boosters may grow over time and Pfzier's chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, says COVID may become an ongoing fight.

"I think it is very likely that we will need a fourth boost, possibly already this spring, particularly if Omicron continues to dominate," he said.

Pfizer says they expect to have a vaccine for children as young as 6 months by the summer.

CBS2's Jessica Moore contributed to this report.

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