NY sees signs of COVID-19 upticks after weeks of decreases
New York is seeing signs that more people are testing positive for the coronavirus, a contrast from weeks of declining rates of new positive tests.
An average of 365 people tested positive each day over the seven day period ending Thursday, according to state data. That’s up 17% from 312 as of a week ago.
Exactly why is unclear, but data show the numbers are rising even as less testing is occurring. The state averaged 75,500 COVID-19 tests in the seven days through Thursday, down from nearly 87,000 the previous week.
Department of Health spokesperson Abigail Barker said the highly contagious Delta variant represents an increasing percentage of the coronavirus variants identified in New York, which is in line with national trends.
“As the rate of vaccination increases and the rate of testing decreases, individuals getting tested are more likely to be positive,” Barker said in an email.
Parts of New York City and its suburbs are driving much of the increase in positive tests: Staten Island averaged 33 new positives each day, up 45% from the previous week. Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx also saw upticks to an average of 39, 58 and 29 people testing positive each day, while the rate was flat in Queens at 50.
Still, far fewer people are testing positive in New York now than during this spring: 781 people were testing positive each day in the last week of May.
Meanwhile, hospitals statewide reported a record low of 330 COVID-19 patients as of last Saturday. That figure has fluctuated in recent days to 349 patients as of Thursday. Hospitals in Manhattan, Staten Island and Suffolk counties are reporting among the most patients per-capita in the state.
The uptick in new positives comes weeks after New York removed most COVID-19 restrictions, and ahead of the Fourth of July weekend and a busy travel season.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to get vaccinated. Public health experts say the variant poses the most danger where vaccinations are sparse.
About 54.2% of New York’s 20 million residents are fully vaccinated, according to federal data.
Rates are lowest in parts of western New York and New York City: from one-third of residents in Allegany County, to 42% in the Bronx, to 44% in Brooklyn.
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The DOH’s statement that “individuals getting tested are more likely to be positive” applies if one looks at positive tests as a percentage of those individuals getting tested; but the raw new case numbers are also rising. That increase is a clear sign that the virus continues to spread.
The increase in new case numbers is cause for concern: it means that a stalling ~55% citywide vaccination rate and the gradual abandonment of mask-wearing is not an effective strategy to protect the 45% of New Yorkers who have not yet been vaccinated.