NEW YORK — The winter wave of new COVID-19 cases, predominantly the omicron variant, is gripping New York.

"Omicron is a real challenge," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his news briefing Monday. "It's going to be a very challenging few weeks."

In the city, more people are getting tested — and testing positive. There were 5,342 new cases on Dec. 18, according to the seven-day average — a 7.6% positivity rate.

Meanwhile, there were 193 hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness, with 68 people (35%) testing positive.

What You Need To Know

  • There were 5,342 new cases in the city on Dec. 18, according to the seven-day average — a 7.6% positivity rate

  • Broadway shows like "Hamilton" and "Aladdin" are canceling performances because of breakthrough COVID-19 cases

  • Mayor de Blasio said he'll decide this week whether to change protocol for the New Year's Eve celebration at Times Square

The increase in cases is already affecting a COVID-19-weary city.

The plan to bring back the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square for vaccinated revelers may need to change, with a decision from de Blasio expected this week, before Christmas.

"Folks who are planning on being there, be ready to," de Blasio said, "but if we have to modify those plans in a way, we're certainly going to let people know that in just the next few days."

"The party goes on. We are planning and we'll be able to pivot if necessary," said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, which organizes the New Year's Eve event.

And some of the hottest Broadway shows, which require proof of vaccination and masks, have been forced to cancel performances through Christmas because of breakthrough COVID-19 cases.

"Hamilton" is on hiatus until Dec. 26; "Ain't Too Proud," the Temptations musical, is suspended through Dec. 28; "Aladdin" is canceled this week, resuming on Dec. 26; "Jagged Little Pill," the Alanis Morissette musical, is shut down for good.

"It’s hard with the cancellations up and down, but people want to see theater, that’s the thing," said Nick Barnes, a Broadway promoter. "If they can, that’s another question, but people want to see shows."

Yet, at Madison Square Garden in the evening, the COVID-19 spike failed to keep Billy Joel fans from seeing the Piano Man return to the venue, where proof of vaccines were required but not masks.

"Me and my daughter are both fully vaccinated, we’re gonna wear masks, we’re gonna be safe. We feel pretty comfortable," concertgoer Mark Ellis said.

"I’ve grew up with Billy Joel, it’s been played in the car since I was little," concertgoer Charles Ryan said. "This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m not gonna miss this."


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