New York health officials reported 21,027 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic’s nascent days.

The data showed a drastic change in the virus’ New York presence; in weeks prior, infections had been rising, but the sudden spike suggests that the Omicron variant is responsible.

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University, said that the Omicron variant is currently infecting more people in New York than in other parts of the country.

“In that sense, this sort of reminds me of March 2020,” she said. “We are taking the first wave of Omicron in this country, and, similar to the last time in New York, we will be essentially the testing ground for what this variant will do.”

Virus cases in the state have risen 56% in the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have climbed 25% over that same period.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-New York) said on Friday that the surge “is a reminder that the pandemic is not over yet and we must take extra care to keep ourselves and each other safe.” Hochul earlier this week imposed a statewide mandate requiring that masks be worn at all indoor public spaces that do not require proof of full vaccination for entry.

In related news, Radio City Music Hall recently canceled its Rockettes Christmas show due to “increasing challenges from the pandemic.” That came on the heels of many Broadway shows canceling performances.

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