By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York broke another COVID record, with 44,000 new cases reported Friday.

Looking at the numbers: Nearly 360,000 tests in one day, with 12.4% of the results coming up positive. Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with pediatric admissions up four-fold.

READ MORE: New Jersey Announces COVID Vaccine And Booster Mandate For Health Care Workers And High-Risk Settings

The state has issued a warning to parents, saying children 5 and older should get vaccinated.

With Christmas gatherings on the line, many New Yorkers were scrambling Friday to get tested. The city handed out thousands of at-home test kits in all five boroughs.

COVID VACCINE

“Instead of going to the hospital, my partner was there yesterday for seven hours waiting to be tested,” said Martinez Irving.

READ MORE: Biden Administration To Give Out 400 Million Free N95 Masks

“I’m vaccinated twice, but I didn’t get my booster yet. So this helps,” another person said.

The rise in cases has prompted Gov. Kathy Hochul to loosen quarantine guidelines for fully vaccinated essential workers. She says they can return to work masked five days after testing positive, but only if they are asymptomatic and have had no fever for 72 hours.

FIND TESTING SITES: Click here for New York City’s testing site locator, including mobile sites and at-home appointments

The New York State Nurses Association is reacting to the CDC’s new guidance, reducing the isolation period for healthcare workers. Its statement includes “this guidance is inconsistent with proven science, vague and doesn’t provide definitions or explain standards at a time when decision-making for healthcare systems is critical.”

Here’s their full statement:

NYSNA condemns the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s recent emergency guidance as potentially dangerous for healthcare workers and the communities we serve.

This guidance is inconsistent with proven science, vague, and doesn’t provide definitions or explain standards at a time when decision-making for healthcare systems is critical.

The CDC’s “contingency” strategies for “when staffing shortages are anticipated”, allow vaccinated healthcare workers who have higher risk exposures to continue to work and infected healthcare workers to work after 5 days, “as long as they are well enough.”

Healthcare worker infection rates are not being tracked and there’s no substantial evidence behind the CDC changing this guidance. But there is a healthcare staffing crisis the CDC cited as the justification for it.

We do know vaccination provides a spectrum of protection from infection depending on the type of vaccine, time since last dose, and immune status. The CDC itself admits, “Allowing HCP with SARS-CoV-2 infection or higher-risk exposures to return to work before meeting the conventional criteria could result in healthcare-associated SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”

So it makes no sense not to take every measure which would reduce risk of healthcare worker infection.

But the CDC changed these guidelines, without requiring all healthcare workers be supplied with N95s, home testing kits, or requiring portable HEPA filtration in areas like break rooms- measures that would protect healthcare workers and their patients.

Not prioritizing the safety and retention of healthcare workers from the beginning of the pandemic is what exacerbated staffing shortages. That’s job #1 in pandemic response.

This guidance is only going to worsen the shortage and put our patients at risk. Our healthcare workers deserve better and our patients deserve better.

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Editor’s note: This story was first published Dec. 25.

CBSNewYork Team