New COVID-19 subvariants detected, spreading rapidly in central N.Y.

Two new subvariants of COVID-19, spreading rapidly in central New York, might complicate holiday dinners planned for this weekend.

The state Health Department issued a warning ahead of Friday’s Passover seder dinners and Sunday’s Easter dinners. The department urged people to wear masks in indoor public spaces, gather outside if possible and ensure proper air ventilation indoors.

Vulnerable people should consider wearing masks at all times, the department said, though that advice would be difficult to follow during family meals.

In central New York, the new subvariants of omicron are spreading rapidly. The region has twice as many cases per 100,000 people as most regions in the state, at 53 cases per 100,000.

The Capital Region has 23 cases per 100,000. That’s a 92 percent increase over two weeks ago.

Other regions are catching up to central New York. The Mohawk Valley is now at 42 cases per 100,000, an increase of 115 percent over two weeks ago.

At omicron’s peak in New York state in January, there were 461 cases per 100,000.

The state’s Wadsworth Center lab recently identified two subvariants of omicron (BA.2), called BA 2.12 and BA.2.12.1. Those are likely contributing to the increase in cases in central New York and surrounding regions, the state said.

Closer to home, coronavirus cases are also starting to increase. Cases in the region peaked in mid-January before dropping significantly over the following two months. But in the counties that comprise the Capital Region, state data shows a modest but increasing number of positive tests since mid-March.

Albany County added 166 new cases on Friday, the highest since Feb. 9, and a total of 406 since Tuesday. The county is now averaging 105 new cases a day, with a 7.7 percent positive rate for tests.

There are now 29 county residents hospitalized, an increase of 16 since Tuesday.

The county’s seven-day average of new daily positive cases is now up to 105.1 from 84.4.

State monitoring of a county water treatment plant in Albany shows an increase in coronavirus detected in the wastewater. There has been a 12 percent increase over the past two weeks and a substantial or high likelihood of community transmission, which equates to 50 or more cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.

As usual, the state urged people to stay home from religious services and family gatherings if they feel sick, as well as testing themselves at home. Early testing can lead to quick treatment. The state now has significant supplies of two treatment regimens, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. Anyone who tests positive at home should call their health care provider immediately to find out if they are eligible for either treatment, the state said.

“New Yorkers are reminded that COVID treatment works best when it is taken within five days of the onset of symptoms. When symptoms arise, don’t wait to get tested, and don’t wait after a positive result to call your health care provider,” the health department urged.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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