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A familiar anxiety returns to New Yorkers as virus cases surge.

todayDecember 17, 2021

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Holiday plans abruptly reversing, restaurants closing, Broadway shows going dark while, blocks away, long lines form outside testing sites — it’s as if it were 2020 all over again.

New York City and the surrounding Northeast, the epicenter of the coronavirus’s arrival in 2020, is being buffeted by a new surge in infections that seems poised to disrupt the long awaited return to normalcy. New case reports in New York State have skyrocketed nearly 60 percent in the past two weeks.

“It is clear that the Omicron variant is here in New York City in full force,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.

Deidre Depke, 59, waiting in line for a test on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, didn’t need the mayor to tell her. “Monday I wasn’t even thinking about it,” she said, “and Thursday I’m in a panic.”

The number of new cases reported statewide on Thursday alone — 18,276, more than 8,300 of them in New York City — was the highest since at least January.

It remains unknown to what extent Omicron will cause serious illness. Scientists believe that vaccines will still provide protection against the worst outcomes, and boosters are likely to provide additional protection against infection, preliminary data suggests.

The public health picture in other states was also growing bleaker. Connecticut is averaging more than 2,600 new cases a day, up from about 330 at the start of November, and Rhode Island is adding cases at the highest rate in the nation.

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