Hospitalizations in New York rose above 7,000 for the first time in months as the winter wave of the coronavirus continues its grip on the tri-state and the rest of the country.
The number of New Yorkers admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 hit 7,138 after creeping closer to 7,000 all week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday. He says the state finds itself in a “footrace” to distribute the vaccine amid rising spike, with daily death counts in the triple digits for nearly two weeks now.
Sunday's report added another 115 names to the state's death toll, which could reach 30,000 this week based on current projections.
"It has been a tough year and we still have several tough months ahead, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will make it there if we all do our part to slow the spread," Cuomo said in a Sunday statement.
New York City cleared a benchmark on over the weekend as well. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city's seven-day rolling positivity finally crossed 7 percent after inching higher all last week. The state's positivity, meanwhile, holds steady around 5.5 percent.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new measures to protect New York City from the new COVID strain, which has not yet been detected in the U.S. Effective immediately, U.K. travelers to New York City will be personally served a Department of Health commissioner quarantine order by the sheriff's office.
"This will be a personal and direct order to every single one of them telling them they must quarantine," the mayor said. "People are going to be held responsible."
The travel unit will knock on hotel or home doors to ensure compliance. Beyond U.K. travelers, all people coming into the city will receive a commissioner quarantine order via certified mail. Each day a person is found in violation of the quarantine order incurs a $1,000 fine.
Officials in Canada's most populous province have confirmed the first two known Canadian cases of the variant that has since been detected in several other countries, including Denmark, France, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands.
Cuomo believes the new strain is already in New York -- if something spreads globally, it ends up here. But he wants to know when it's confirmed, and where it's been detected. The governor has ordered hospitals across the state to test for the mutation.
Over the Christmas holiday, the U.S. recorded more than 19 million coronavirus cases and over 332,000 deaths, according to a tally by NBC News. The virus has now taken the lives of one in every 1,000 Americans.
Despite these growing figures and repeated warnings from government officials, travel surged as Americans criss-crossed the county for the holidays. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the rising tide of infections could get another boost due to the spike in travel.
"We very well might see a post-seasonal — in the sense of Christmas, New Year's — surge, and as I've described it, as a surge upon a surge," Fauci said on CNN's "State of the Union."
But he said he agreed with the assessment made by President-elect Joe Biden, who warned on Tuesday that "our darkest days in this battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us."
As of Sunday, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut had confirmed more than 50,000 virus deaths and more than 1.5 million cases, though tri-state officials acknowledge both tolls are likely significantly higher than reported.