New York state is monitoring the new omicron BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19, but is not sounding alarms about it, state health officials said Monday.

“It’s no surprise that we are seeing COVID cases tick up," state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, as society continues to reopen, pandemic redistrictions are loosened and the virus continues to adapt.

The state reported 1,099 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours and the seven-day average positivity rate is currently 1.92%. Bassett said the omicron subvariant accounts for about 42% of all current cases in New York.

The subvariant has caused case counts to rise in Europe over the last few weeks. Bassett said since New York City has often been the gateway for COVID-19 into the state and country, officials are watching what's happening across the Atlantic.

“We have not seen the rate of growth that we’ve seen in the [United Kingdom] and in Europe," Bassett said of cases, adding she doesn't "expect to see a deep surge in cases in New York state.”

Bassett said for those who might be concerned about the new subvariant, the COVID-19 vaccine booster is a valuable weapon. Currently, 7.2 million boosters have been administered in New York, which is about 56.5% of the people who are eligible.

“If you’re eligible for a booster, now is the time to get boosted," Bassett said.

The health commissioner added omicron BA.2 does not appear to cause more severe illness.

“This subvariant is going to be something we’re watching closely," Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

She also said the state is not shutting down COVID-19 testing sites.


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