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People walking past a sign for coronavirus testing in the South Bronx on March 10. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Two variants of the coronavirus that are possibly more infectious currently make up 51% of New York City's new coronavirus cases, health officials said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Jay Varma, a senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, said preliminary analysis suggests that the strain first discovered in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7, and a new strain found in New York City, B.1.526, may spread more easily than other strains of the virus but are not more deadly.

What they're saying: "Unfortunately, we have found that the new variants of COVID-19 are continuing to spread," Varma said.

  • He added that the best way to prevent the spread of the variants is to "keep doing what you're doing" by wearing masks, social distancing and receiving a vaccine when possible.

The big picture: Though New York City officials said the U.K. variant is not more deadly than older strains of the virus, scientists with the British government said in an assessment in February that it is "likely" more lethal.

  • A study published in MedRxiv last month estimated that cases of the U.K. variant may be doubling in the U.S. nearly every 10 days and could the dominant version of the virus in the country this month.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.

Sep 25, 2021 - Health

Federal judge upholds Cincinnati health care system's COVID vaccine mandate

Photo: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Friday that a health care provider serving the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region can issue mandates requiring its more than 10,000 employees to get vaccinated or risk termination.

Why it matters: It's the latest ruling to uphold U.S. private employers' right to issue vaccine mandates, and comes after President Biden signed an executive order requiring vaccinations or once-a-week testing for companies with more than 100 employees.