The CDC is conducting the contact tracing following the discovery of the Omicron variant in New York City, this after the New York Times warned that surveillance cutbacks would leave New York City vulnerable to new viral outbreaks.
By Louis Flores
Updated 09 Dec 2021 14:45 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not answering questions about why they are conducting the contact tracing after the now-infamous anime convention in New York City last month, which was the reported source of the first detection of the Omicron variant in New York City. Progress New York sought clarification about the Agency’s role in shoring up public confidence in New York City’s handling of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. However, the CDC, as the top Federal health ministry is known, refused to answer advance questions submitted for this report.
The CNN cable news network published a report on Tuesday, disclosing that the CDC “has contacted more than 35,000 people so far who attended a recent anime convention in New York.” It’s not known why Federal health officials are conducting the work that is typically the responsibility of New York City Municipal health officials. An interview request made to the press office supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio (Working Families Party-New York City) has gone unanswered for several days.
None of the cluster of cases traced to the anime convention were reported by City health officials, raising new concerns about the City’s monitoring of the Coronavirus pandemic. After Progress New York published a series of reports, which raised questions about the City’s surveillance of Coronavirus variants, the New York Times published a report in July, warning that monitoring cutbacks by the de Blasio administration to the test and trace corps and other questions would put New York City in a position to be “ill prepared should more contagious forms of the virus cause new outbreaks.” The Omicron variant has been described to have over 30 mutations on its spike protein, leading scientists to fear that the new lineage may be more transmissible and capable of vaccine escape.
The cutbacks in monitoring in New York City followed a reported National allocation of $1,7 billion by the Biden White House to fund variant sequencing. A testing and sequencing company founded with assistance from the City, the Pandemic Response Lab, is now valued at $1,8 billion. Despite these resources, New York City trails in reported monitoring of variants.
The de Blasio administration continues to keep a lid on Government data about the Coronavirus pandemic.
A report published by The City, an online news Web site, revealed that the de Blasio administration refused to release Government data about COVID-19 deaths by neighborhood during the 2020 peak of the pandemic. For years, it has been known that the Mayor’s Office reviews all open records requests that reflect on Mayor de Blasio.
Without the specificity of data, the de Blasio administration continues to assert that it believes that there is community spread of the Omicron variant. With increasing reports that the Omicron variant is being detected across the Nation, attention is turning to surveillance data to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant outbreak.
In Houston, it has been reported that the Omicron variant has been detected in a sample of wastewater, according to a news release published by the Houston Municipal health agency. The Coronavirus can be detected in wastewater samples, since humans and animals shed the virus in their bodily waste. Testing wastewater samples can identify early outbreaks during a time before people report being sick and seek medical tests or treatments.
In New York, requests have been made for Government data about the de Blasio administration’s testing of wastewater. One such request was acknowledged on 9 Dec. 2020, but the New York City open records tracker revealed that the request remains open. A request that appears similar was acknowledged on 11 Mar. 2021, but it, too, remains open. Progress New York has made its own request, which was acknowledged on Tuesday. A response was promised within 20 Business Days.
- The Pandemic Response Lab, Mayor de Blasio’s ‘gold standard’ of testing, misses Omicron variant, its latest misfire after NYC was late to report the Delta and AY.3 variants [Progress New York]
- City Hall Withheld COVID Neighborhood Death Data During NYC’s 2020 Pandemic Peak, Emails Show [The City]
- As Delta Risk Looms, New York City Scales Back Covid Monitoring [The New York Times]
- Researchers Find Signs of COVID-19 Mutations in NYC Sewage, Pointing to Possible Dog and Rat Infections [The City]
- City of New York’s systemic FOIL violations referred to U.S. Attorney’s Office in a complaint [Progress New York]
- De Blasio Lawyers Are Screening All FOIL Requests That “Reflect Directly On The Mayor” [Gothamist]