By Chantee Lans
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — The new coronavirus variant known as BA-2 is moving through New York City. Despite the increase in numbers, Mayor Eric Adams removed the vaccine mandate for pro-athletes and entertainers, and now some unions are calling foul.
Some of the biggest numbers of BA-2 are reportedly in Manhattan.
The health department says 10 of the 15 areas across the city with the highest 7-day positivity rates are in Manhattan, despite one of the highest vaccination rates in the city.
BA-2 is a subvariant of omicron and highly contagious, but officials say it does not appear to cause more severe illnesses.
Despite COVID concerns, unvaccinated Nets player Kyrie Irving rejoined his teammates at Barclays Center.
The star was not allowed to play at home due to his vaccination status, but Mayor Adams just lifted the vaccine mandate for athletes last week.
Irving received a standing ovation from fans at the Barclays Center.
He walked out on the court and hugged his teammates before the game.
The Brooklyn Nets Guard made his home debut Sunday night during a 110 to 119 loss against the Charlotte Hornets.
Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 had not been able to play at home all season because of New York City’s private employer mandate.
Mayor Eric Adams rolled back the mandate last week for athletes and performers allowing Irving to play his first home game.
Irving struggled to find a rhythm all night.
He had 16 points and 11 assists.
He believes his presence on the floor represents something much larger than a basketball player.
“I’m grateful I got a chance to be out there with my brothers,” Irving said. “I’m grateful that we can move forward but tonight my presence out there was bigger than the basketball game. It just represented a lot of individuals who are out there in the same situation as me and now that I can play, I think that it should be opened up for everybody.”
The heads of New York City’s two firefighters unions demanded on Saturday that Mayor Adams lift the COVID-19 mandate for their members.
They’re both calling on the mayor to sit down with them.
“I meet with everyone. I look forward to meeting with the anyone including our unions,” Adams said.
The mayor defended his decision by saying it is helping the city’s financial comeback.
Some 1,400 city workers have been fired.
The unions say they are considering filing a lawsuit against the city.
The subvariant is also making its way through New Jersey.
The state reported more than 600 positive tests Sunday and one more death.
That means the state’s 7-day average is up 24% from a week ago.
However, it is still dramatically lower than it was in December and January during the Omicron surge.
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