CDC: 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 a week possible by the end of Christmas week
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning about a new surge of COVID-19 infections due to holiday gatherings and the new omicron variant.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says that early data suggests that the new variant is more transmissible than delta with a doubling time of around two days.
By the end of Christmas week, the CDC predicts the variant will fuel a massive spike in new infections--up to a 55% increase of 1.3 million cases in a week.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is also raising the alarm.
"This is a health care crisis and people are going to die," Hochul says.
Lines for COVID-19 testing are growing, mask mandates are being reinstituted and some schools are going remote as the COVID-19 positivity rate on Long Island has surged past 7%.
Medical experts say the spike is now also colliding with flu season.
"It is very worrisome that we will see flu increasing at the same time as COVID increase and perhaps in the same patients," says Dr. Sharon Nachman of Stony Brook Children's Hospital. "We are concerned because if you're not wearing your mask and you haven't been vaccinated, you're at risk for getting both infections at the same time through the same route and of course transmitting them as well."
Long Islanders tell News 12 they are going to be careful during holiday gatherings.
"I'm keeping my holiday very small and I know my circle and I'm vaccinated and so is everyone else," says Merrick resident Donna Laurino.
According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself while celebrating the holidays is to make sure everyone is fully vaccinated and to avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. They also recommend wearing masks in public indoor settings, not to travel or gather with others if you are sick and to get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has the virus.