Health officials in New York continue to be worried about a very infectious new strain of COVID as deaths skyrocket.

The New York State Department of Health confirmed the XBB.1.5 variant, now makes up over 50 percent of COVID-19 cases in New York.

New, Very Infectious COVID Variant Spreading Rapidly In New York

Blood sample positive with Omicron COVID-19 coronavirus

The new variant is officially the dominant strain in the Empire State, according to health officials.

"Since it emerged, the COVID-19 virus continues to change," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald stated. "The new bivalent booster has been updated to address these changes, which is why it is so important that all New Yorkers 6 months and older get the important protection it offers."

Officials are worried this new variant is emerging when flu cases are also high.

Health Officials Worried About New COVID Variant In New York

Positive test result of COVID-19 virus

Early data indicates the XBB.1.5 variant spreads quicker than other variants, according to New York health officials.

"The booster provides significant protection against getting very sick or being hospitalized, and according to the latest data from CDC, those who received the bivalent booster were more than 18 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated people," McDonald said.

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The new variant is a variant of omicron and reportedly started in South Africa.

Health Officials Worried About New COVID Variant In New York

Holiday Surge At Covid Testing Sites Subsides, Even As Omicron Continues Its Spread
Getty Images

Health officials report the new variant is doubling across the United State every two weeks, NBC reports.

"It is the most transmissible subvariant that has been detected yet," WHO COVID-19 Technical Lead Maria VanKerkhove said. "The more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change."

COVID Deaths On The Rise

COVID deaths are reaching levels not seen in almost a year.

There have been around 915 COVID-related deaths in New York Stae in the past month, officials say. That's a 30 percent jump compared to the previous month.

It's also the highest number of COVID-related deaths since February 2022.

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Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor
Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor

"I urge everyone to remain vigilant and continue to use all available tools to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe and healthy," Governor Hochul said. "Stay up to date on vaccine doses, and test before gatherings or travel. If you test positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options."

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