The omicron variant and rising COVID-19 cases in New York City are throwing into doubt efforts to encourage workers to return to the office as the new year approaches.
Fewer than a third of Manhattan office workers are working in-person on a typical weekday, according to a study by the Partnership for New York City. Gov. Kathy Hochul this month called for workers to return to the office for the majority of the workweek in the new year. The governor previously cited the economic benefits of in-person work, such as increased foot traffic for retail stores and other small businesses.
But that was before news emerged about the omicron variant. Hochul last week declared a state of emergency in response to the new variant.
U.S. health officials have said evidence suggests that the variant is highly contagious. But not much is known about its speed of spread or whether it causes more severe illness than other variants.
“It has the molecular characteristics that would strongly suggest that it would be more transmissible,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend on ABC’s This Week. “It has a disturbingly large number of mutations in the spike protein, which is the business end of the virus.”