Data released this week by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show the contagious Delta variant now accounting for a majority of new coronavirus cases. Of the cases analyzed by the city between June 27 and July 3, Delta made up 69 percent, as first reported by Gothamist. That is up from 44 percent of cases the week prior. City officials say the growing spread of the Delta variant is behind the city’s recent uptick in new virus cases, reported in nearly all residents who remain unvaccinated.
The Delta variant is much more transmissible than the original strain of the virus that hit New York City last spring. According to city data that examines how variants are spreading across the five boroughs, Delta made up about 4 percent of cases analyzed at the beginning of May. By the end of June, the percentage grew to 44 percent.
The city’s seven-day average rate of positivity increased to 1.44 percent as of Friday, the highest rate in nearly two months, with 434 new cases on a seven-day average. Hospitalizations and deaths remain stable, a sign vaccinations are working to prevent serious illness from the virus, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has noted. Roughly 64 percent of adults in the city are fully vaccinated, according to the city.
“Our health team is watching this information constantly,” de Blasio said during an interview on Friday with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, referring to the latest data on Covid. “We’re not seeing any real movement in the hospitalization and that’s really important.”
A new study released this week by epidemiologists at Yale University found that New York City’s vaccination campaign has so far saved more than 8,300 lives and averted roughly 250,000 cases and 44,000 hospitalizations.
Additional data released this week from the city’s Health Department supports this study. Between January 1 and June 15 of this year, 98.9 percent of new cases, 98.4 percent of hospitalizations, and 98.8 percent of deaths from COVID-19 were those who were not fully vaccinated, according to the department.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi has said the increase in positivity and case numbers seen in city hot spots like Staten Island is stemming from “unvaccinated individuals, particularly young people who remain unvaccinated.”
“The spread of the Delta variant means that it is perhaps the most dangerous time to be unvaccinated,” Chokshi said Monday.
Although cities like Los Angeles are reinstating indoor mask mandates for all residents, de Blasio on Friday said he is not considering similar restrictions. Since May 19, those who have received a vaccine are not required to wear masks or maintain six feet of distance from others indoors.
The mayor said the city will continue to watch the hospitalization metrics and make adjustments to policies as needed.
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