New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said the Covid figures showed the city had not yet hit the peak in the Omicron-fueled spike of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
“Cases and hospitalizations are still rising and I expect this to continue in the near term, meaning the next days to weeks,” Chokshi said at a Covid briefing on Wednesday.
He said the steepness of the curve appears to be falling, but this could be due to a change in holiday testing patterns, when fewer people are being tested. He said the impact of gatherings on the new year could provide yet another impetus and encouraged New Yorkers to continue to receive booster doses and to wear masks and social distancing.
The seven-day average of positive cases rose to around 35% on January 2. The seven-day average of hospitalizations fell to 604 on January 2, from 725 on December 31.
“What we are looking for is a slowdown in growth and we are not seeing it yet, but what I am saying in the data is that we may peak in the coming weeks,” Chokshi said. ,
Calling peaks can be risky given the unpredictability of COVID-19 and cases often trace the true infection back in days. Google searches for “Covid symptoms” topped New York City, which may be an incomplete indicator of viral spread, as data watcher Nate Silver pointed out on Twitter this week.
The seven-day average of emergency department visits with a Covid-like illness has also slipped somewhat in all five of the city’s boroughs, although it is unclear to what extent the holiday-effect is driving the data. In South Africa, the omicron wave ended in about 30 days, and New York identified its first case of this type about a month ago.