News about Omicron, tests and vaccines: Covid-Live-Updates

Credit…John Minchillo / Associated Press

Covid-19 is on the rise in New York City homeless shelters, leading some to urge the city’s mayor to move people to hotels to keep the fast-spreading variant of Omicron away from crowded shelters.

On Thursday the city reported that there had been 187 new cases in the past week among the 46,000 residents of the main housing system, more than double the 82 the previous week and more than five times the 36 cases reported for the last week of November .

The city did not say how many of those 187 cases were in the barrack-like “gathered” shelters that house 12,000 people, often sleeping more than 20 per room.

But the operator of one such shelter said Thursday that 14 out of 200 residents, or 7 percent, had tested positive in the past few days and most residents had not tested at all in the past two weeks. At least four out of around 40 workers at this shelter also tested positive, said the operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the city forbids the shelters from speaking to reporters without permission.

If 7 percent of residents of shared accommodation were infected with the coronavirus, that would be over 800 people, which would exceed the current range of isolation and quarantine rooms offered by the home system. So far, however, the 187 new cases the city has reported make up less than 1 percent of the total population of animal shelters.

The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to move people from the gathering’s accommodations back to the hotels the city housed them in during the early waves of the pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus.

The city’s elected auditor, Brad Lander, also said that by placing thousands of people in temporary shelters “where they cannot adequately isolate”, the city “has failed” its legal and moral obligation to “people who are in trouble.” to provide a safe place ”. stay warm and sleep. “

But Mr de Blasio said the city has no plans to move people en masse to hotels. “What we are seeing in Omicron so far: strong increase but less impact, and we also believe this will only be for a short period of time,” he said on Wednesday. “So that doesn’t mean doing things like we did last year.”

He added, “We also vaccinated a hell of a lot more people than we did in the challenges last year.”

At least 11,000 residents of shelters were vaccinated directly through the protection system, in addition to an unknown but large number vaccinated elsewhere, the Department of Homeless Services said.

According to Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the homeless service, the protection system had about 70 vacant beds in isolation units, to which people are sent after positive tests or with Covid-like symptoms, and about 130 beds in quarantine rooms, as of Tuesday. Typically, when someone tests positive in a collective shelter, the people who sleep closest to them are quarantined. Mr. McGinn said the department was “on standby to provide additional beds pending additional demand.”

On Wednesday, Housing Works, the nonprofit that operates most of the protection system’s isolation and quarantine units, declined to provide medical services at a new isolation hotel that is using the city because the city insisted on placing two people in a single isolation room, said Charles King, executive director of Housing Works.

At a women’s shelter in College Point, Queens, a resident, Alison Gibney, said three women she knew had tested positive in the past few days.

“It’s a nightmare situation,” said Ms. Gibney. “There are 15 women in one room and I have to sleep with a mask on, and that is the only time that I am not double-masked.”

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