Uptick in COVID-19 Cases Hits NYC Areas with Low Vaccination Rates
The number of COVID-19 cases is creeping up after months of sustained decrease — with new infections concentrated in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates, an analysis by THE CITY shows.
On Tuesday, 1% of COVID-19 tests came back positive, which is double the daily rate compared to the same time a month ago. For every 100,000 New Yorkers, there were 4.8 new cases, up from 2.5 in mid-June.
Public health experts say there’s no reason to panic, but they urged the nearly 43% of New Yorkers who haven’t been vaccinated to get their shots.
“We hope that people listening understand that the increase in cases is all occurring among unvaccinated people,” Dr. Dave Chokshi, the commissioner of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, health department officials said 98.8% of the 8,163 people killed by COVID-19 in the city this year through June 15 had not been fully vaccinated. The officials also touted a Yale study that found vaccinations had prevented about 250,000 COVID-19 cases, 44,000 hospitalizations and 8,300 deaths in the city.
Experts say the so-called Delta variant, which research shows to be far more transmissible than the initial strain that ravaged the city beginning last spring, is contributing to the bump. Travelling and holiday gatherings during the Fourth of July weekend may also be playing a role, the experts said.
THE CITY’s analysis of health data shows new cases are concentrated in areas with low vaccination rates.
Among the neighborhoods with the highest numbers of new cases since the beginning of July: South Williamsburg, East New York and Canarsie in Brooklyn, Morrisana in The Bronx and Tottenville in Staten Island.
Dr. Jessica Justman, an associate professor of Medicine in Epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said the “doubling of such a low number” should not get New Yorkers too worried. But she said the spread of the variant should be a wakeup call to those who haven’t been vaccinated.
“The main job of New York City residents is to go and get vaccinated,” Justman said.