Dec. 30, 2021 By Allie Griffin
More than a dozen Queens residents died of COVID-19 Tuesday — the highest number of fatalities among the 62 counties in New York State.
Altogether, 97 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 Tuesday including 13 Queens residents as the number of cases reached the highest level on record amid a soaring Omicron-driven surge.
The daily death toll is the highest the state has seen since February 2021 and more residents of Queens died Tuesday than of any other county in New York, according to state data.
“That is not the direction we want to go,” Governor Kathy Hochul said at a press conference in Plattsburgh Wednesday. “It is heartbreaking to know that there’s families that will not see the [start] of the new year with their loved one.”
Hochul warned of a January surge as the number of new cases Tuesday shattered all previous records. A whopping 67,090 New Yorkers contracted COVID-19 on Tuesday alone — with more than half coming from the five boroughs.
New York City reported 39,591 new coronavirus cases and 28 COVID deaths Tuesday. In addition to the 13 Queens residents who succumbed to the virus, six residents from Brooklyn, six from the Bronx, two from Manhattan and one from Staten Island also died.
Legislators in Queens — which made national headlines as the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic early on — have been calling for more resources to address the spike in cases and demand for testing.
They have urged the city and state to open more COVID-19 testing sites in various parts of the borough as residents wait for hours in the cold outside existing facilities.
Hochul added a state-run mass testing site at York College in Jamaica, which opened Wednesday.
However, she noted more testing and resources will be needed as the state prepares for cases to rise even higher—as New Yorkers return from holiday gatherings and travel.
“We know it’s coming and we’re naive to think it won’t,” Hochul said. “We just had, a few days ago, families travel all over the county… Because they’re with extended family and friends, we do think there’s going to be a spike in cases.”
She warned that hospitalizations statewide will likely increase as well.
Hochul said the number of hospitalizations is already concerning, albeit lower than last year due to vaccinations. Statewide, 6,767 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 complications Tuesday — up 594 from a day earlier.
Beginning last week, New York City’s public hospitals have banned nearly all visitors in an effort to protect both patients and staff.
Staff shortages due to employees contracting COVID-19 has affected several industries. A lack of staff has shuttered private urgent care facilities that offer COVID-19 testing and has also hurt the airline industry—leading to the cancellation of thousands of flights during the busy travel season.
Five CityMD urgent care clinics in Queens have temporarily closed, with no word from the company when they will reopen.