The omicron variant and rising Covid cases in New York City could delay efforts by companies encouraging workers to return to the office before the end of the year. Less than a third of Manhattan office workers are currently working in-person on a typical weekday, according to a study by the Partnership for New York City.

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently called for workers to return to offices for the majority of the workweek, as of 2022. But that was before news emerged about the omicron variant, which motivated her to declare a state of emergency. As part of the executive order, limits began being placed on nonessential scheduled procedures at hospitals with limited capacity on Dec. 3.

U.S. health officials have said evidence suggests the new variant is highly contagious, although experts – in late Nov. – were still insure whether it causes more severe illness than other variants. Until officials learn more about omicron, Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, is recommending that New Yorkers wear masks indoors at all times.

“Preliminary evidence suggests that those who’ve had Covid-19 in the past might be more easily reinfected with omicron,” Chokshi said. “This underscores our strong recommendation to get vaccinated regardless of if you’ve already had Covid-19.”

He cited the most recently available data, showing that unvaccinated New Yorkers were seven times more likely to be infected than vaccinated residents. Chokshi also urged people who gathered or traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday to get tested for Covid-19.

In a statement, Hochul reinforced a message she’s repeated often: “Wear a mask in indoor public places. Use proper hand hygiene. Get tested. And stay home when sick. The vaccine also remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and this news further emphasizes the need for each of us to get vaccinated and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated.”

Source: Crain’s New York Business

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