New York sees uptick in BA.2 COVID variant

The state is watching the emerging omicron sub-variant: BA.2.

Governor Kathy Hochul said Monday there’s an uptick in that variant across the state, but that it’s not as severe as omicron. However, it is more transmissible.

Dr. Kirsten St. George, the chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the Wadsworth Center, said 99.5% of COVID cases tested are the omicron variant. Of that number, 42% of them are BA.2.

"This increase in the proportion of BA.2 is not surprising, but it has increased more slowly in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. than in many other countries," St. George said.

New York is sitting at a 1.92% 7-day average percent positivity rate.

"This is the message to New Yorkers: We’ve learned a lot. We know how to handle this," Hochul said. "We are not in alarmist mode, we’re not panicking over this, we’re just watching the numbers and want to make sure that everybody knows what we know at the same time."

Hochul said even though the strain isn’t as severe as others, she’s not going to close any testing sites, and encourages New Yorkers to test if they feel ill, and to get vaccinated.