New York City’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate spikes 47% to 1.28%


New York City health officials are blaming the Indian ‘Delta’ variant and low vaccination rates in certain ZIP codes as COVID-19 cases spike in the Big Apple.

The city’s test positivity increased to 1.28 percent as of July 11, marking a 47 percent jump from a 0.87 percent average over the previous month.

Staten Island has the highest spike with some ZIP codes in the borough recording positivity rates at five percent and only 49 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

This jump in cases suggests that even areas in the U.S. with higher overall vaccination rates are still vulnerable to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Cases are rising in New York City as the Delta variant spreads in under-vaccinated areas. Pictured: A nurse administers a Covid shot at a vaccination site in the Bronx

In the last four weeks, the Delta variant has caused more than one in four new cases in NYC

In the last four weeks, the Delta variant has caused more than one in four new cases in NYC

The city's test positivity rate is now rising after many weeks under one percent

The city’s test positivity rate is now rising after many weeks under one percent

Positivity rates are rising back up to where they were in early spring after becing on the decline in late spring and early summer

Positivity rates are rising back up to where they were in early spring after becing on the decline in late spring and early summer 

Covid cases are rising in New York City, with spikes in under-vaccinated areas.

The city has seen an average of 326 new confirmed and probable cases a day as of July 12, city data show.

That’s a 36 percent spike from the average of 239 new cases a day during the previous month.

New York City’s test positivity rate – the share of PCR tests returning positive results – is also increasing.

The rate is at 1.28 percent as of July 11, up from a 0.87 percent average over the past month.

While 1.28 percent may still seem incredibly low, the rise is concerning for a city where over half of residents are vaccinated.

Hospitalization and death numbers in the city continue to be low, with averages of only 16 new patients and three new deaths each day.

In a press briefing on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio cited these numbers as evidence that the vaccines are keeping New Yorkers out of the hospital.

Still, if cases continue to rise, city hospitals could see more patients in the coming weeks. Hospitalization numbers tend to rise with a lag, two to three weeks after cases do.

City officials attribute the rising case numbers to the super-contagious Delta variant – spreading rapidly in NYC as it is across the country.

The Delta variant - the red line rapidly increasing towards the right of this chart - is now causing half of new cases in NYC. It has outcompeted the Iota variant - in orange

The Delta variant – the red line rapidly increasing towards the right of this chart – is now causing half of new cases in NYC. It has outcompeted the Iota variant – in orange

According to NYC Health, the Delta variant has caused 26 percent of new cases in the city over the last four weeks and is poised to take over the Kent ‘Alpha’ variant as the dominant strain in the city.

The Delta variant caused 45 percent of new cases in the week of June 26 – though the true number may now be much higher.

It is also associated with more than half of new cases in the country, according to the CDC, and its prevalence is doubling every two weeks.

Delta has outcompeted other variants in NYC. The Iota variant – which was first identified in the city – dominated earlier in the spring, but now causes less than two percent of new cases. 

‘The spread of the Delta variant means that it is perhaps the most dangerous time to be unvaccinated,’ said Dr Dave Chokshi, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health, at a press briefing on Monday.

‘And that’s why we have ensured that our vaccination efforts are proceeding with as much urgency as possible to be able to extend the protection of vaccination to as many people as we can.’

Under-vaccinated parts of the city are especially vulnerable to the variant.

Manhattan has a higher vaccination rate than the outer boroughs, with the lowest rate in the Bronx

Manhattan has a higher vaccination rate than the outer boroughs, with the lowest rate in the Bronx

Overall, 53 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated while an additional five percent has received at least one dose.

But numbers vary wildly by neighborhood. Some ZIP codes have vaccination rates below 40 percent. 

Chokshi called out Staten Island as an example, saying that cases and test positivity rates have increased in the borough in recent weeks.

‘That’s because we have unvaccinated individuals, particularly younger people, who remain unvaccinated,’ he said.

Staten Island is not the only part of the city at risk, though. The Bronx has the lowest vaccination rate of any borough – just 43 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Brooklyn and Queens also have lower rates compared to Manhattan, where 65 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

NYC's vaccination campaign has plateaued in recent months, though the city is promoting shots through a lottery and other efforts

NYC’s vaccination campaign has plateaued in recent months, though the city is promoting shots through a lottery and other efforts

The NYC vaccination campaign is continuing to promote Covid shots.

The city’s lottery will continue until the end of July with prizes including $2,500 in cash, Coney Island tickets, Citi Bike memberships, and more.

Meanwhile, NYC has made the vaccines more accessible through a door-to-door mobile unit and at-home appointments.

Any New Yorker over age 12 can sign up for an at-home appointment online or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).

NYC is also partnering with community organizations such as churches to increase trust in the shots.

‘We’ve got to keep innovating,’ de Blasio said, of the efforts to increase vaccinations. ‘We’ve got to keep looking for every opportunity.’

Still, the rising cases in NYC indicate that even a city with overall high vaccination rates is vulnerable to Delta.

In other parts of the U.S. with vaccination rates under 40 percent, hospitals are filling up with patients infected by Delta.



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