New York faces another surge

Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams announce launch of new COVID-19 treatment hotline

THE sixth wave of COVID-19 has started, with the highly contagious omicron variant – the BA.5 variant –  now the most transmissible and dominant strain of COVID-19 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In New York City, COVID-19 cases are rising and the current positivity rate has reached an average of 15%. Because of this, the New York City Health Department issued new guidance asking that people wear a high-quality mask, such as an N95, KN95, or KF94 in all public indoor settings and around crowds outside.

The BA.5 variant is an intensely contagious COVID variant that some health experts have called it the “worst version” of omicron yet as it is highly infectious and largely resistant to the current vaccines. Those who have come down with the virus already are also more susceptible to reinfection.

According to experts, this variant which fuels higher infection rates is also the dominant strain in the CDC’s New York region.

Early this week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of a new free hotline in New York for those who test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have a health care provider, as part of ongoing efforts to keep New Yorkers protected throughout the pandemic.

The hotline, 888-TREAT-NY, was launched by the New York State Department of Health after reaching an agreement to utilize the Virtual ExpressCare platform operated by NYC Health + Hospitals.

“Every New Yorker deserves access to quality, accessible health care, regardless of their insurance status,” said Mayor Adams. “NYC Health + Hospitals’ Virtual ExpressCare has helped connect thousands of New Yorkers to COVID-19 resources and I’m proud that, through this partnership with Governor Hochul and Commissioner Bassett, New Yorkers across the state, regardless of whether they have a health care provider, will now have access to critical and lifesaving treatments.”

“We’ve made real progress in our fight against COVID-19, but as new variants continue to spread it’s important to continue to adapt and expand our efforts to protect New Yorkers,” said Governor Hochul. “Our new COVID-19 treatment hotline will provide New Yorkers with better access to early treatments that help prevent severe illness.”

New York City residents, regardless of income or health insurance coverage who test COVID-19 positive, are eligible to be evaluated for treatment by calling 212-COVID-19 or completing an evaluation on the New York State COVID-19 ExpressCare Therapeutics Access website, which includes a telemedicine visit. New Yorkers outside of New York City should call 888-TREAT-NY (888-873-2869).

The hotline is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and is operated by experienced Health + Hospitals professionals who have the clinical training to prescribe treatment and referrals if needed. The ExpressCare platform is a service that allows New Yorkers to receive virtual care from an NYC Health + Hospitals provider.

The telemedicine visit will include a clinical assessment by medical providers who will identify the appropriate COVID-19 treatment plan, which may include a prescription for Paxlovid or Molnupiravir. These oral antiviral medications have both been proven to decrease hospitalization for those that are at risk for severe disease. When given soon after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis these antivirals also help fight infection and shorten recovery time. n

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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