COVID positivity rates fall in most spots as low-vaxxed areas see more cases

People participate in a Global Climate Strike in New York
A masked protester at the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 24.

Heading into the last week of September, New York City continues to see a slowing spread of COVID-19, with positivity rates threatening to fall below 2 percent in the days ahead.

As of Sept. 24, according to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the city-wide 7-day positivity rate was down to 2.01 percent, down from the 2.82 percent recorded a week prior. Almost every key indicator that the city’s Health Department uses to track the spread of COVID-19 — including number of total new cases, hospitalizations and deaths — are either decreasing or holding stable.

Just four areas of the Five Boroughs registered a 7-day positivity rate of 5 percent or higher between Sept. 15-21, down from 15 communities which exceeded 5 percent the previous week, Sept. 8-15. Ten communities saw 100 or more new infections between Sept. 15-21, down from 15 the week prior.

Brooklyn dominated the top 10 list of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed between Sept. 15-21, with East Williamsburg/Williamsburg (11211/11249) leading the way with 160 cases. That was followed by Borough Park (11219, 127 cases); Canarsie (11236, 125 cases); South Williamsburg (11206, 109 cases), Gravesend/Homecrest (11223, 109 cases); Midwood (11230, 107 cases) and Cypress Hills/East New York (11207, 104 cases).

The 10 areas with the most new COVID-19 cases between Sept. 15-21, 2021.New York City Health Department

Borough Park (6.44 percent) and Gravesend/Homecrest (5.13 percent) had the highest and third-highest 7-day positivity rates in the city this week, according to the Health Department. Two areas of Staten Island also had positivity rates exceeding 5 percent: Charleston/Prince’s Bay/Woodrow (10309, 5.56 percent, 85 cases) and Tottenville (10307, 5.04 percent, 30 new cases).

The 10 areas with the highest 7-day positivity rates between Sept. 15-21, 2021.New York City Health Department

For weeks now, Staten Island has been the city’s hot zone, but the latest report shows some progress. Just three areas of The Rock were among the top 10 in 7-day positivity rates, and only two neighborhoods were in the top-10 for total new cases.

Still, the level of COVID-19 transmission remains very high on Staten Island. The city’s Health Department reported a transmission rate of 195.32 cases per 100,000 residents, well above the citywide average of 130.84 cases per 100,000 residents. 

That knowledge, however, did not stop anti-vaccine mandate protests on the island on Saturday.

The transmission rate demonstrates how quickly COVID-19 is spreading across the city and in the boroughs.New York City Health Department

Overall, the city hit a milestone this past week in vaccinations, with 70 percent of residents (5,806,017 out of 8,336,817) having received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 63 percent of residents (5,227,149) now considered fully vaccinated. 

Both Manhattan and Queens have at least 70 percent of all residents fully vaccinated, but Staten Island (59 percent), Brooklyn (56 percent) and the Bronx (55 percent) continue to lag behind. The good news, however, is that all boroughs registered at least 62 percent of residents with at least one dose in their arms.

Citywide vaccination rates as of 9:30 a.m. Sept. 26.New York City Health Department

Of the 10 New York City areas with the highest 7-day positivity rate over the past week, nine of them had fully vaccinated rates of under 60 percent. The lone exception was Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest, Queens (11366), which had a 67 percent fully vaccinated rate but also a 7-day positivity rate of 4.69 percent, with 16 new cases reported there.

The lack of vaccinations also seems to be catching up to residents in Edgemere/Far Rockaway (11697), which for weeks has had the lowest fully vaccinated rates in the entire city. Just 41 percent of all 66,856 are fully vaccinated, but the positivity rate there between Sept. 15-21 was up to 4.36 percent, with 88 new cases reported.

Borough Park, whose 7-day positivity rate of 6.44 percent leads the city, also has a fully vaccinated rate of 42 percent, with just 46 percent of residents having received at least one dose.

The vaccination rates for the 10 New York City areas with the highest 7-day positivity rates between Sept. 15-21, 2021.New York City Health Department

The more contagious and potent Delta variant remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the entire city, detected in 99 percent of positive COVID-19 cases tested. If you test positive for the virus, it’s safe to assume at this point that you were hit with the Delta variant.

The vaccines, however, continue to remain effective in combating the spread, as demonstrated by the reported decreases in positivity and confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Still, the virus remains a lethal threat to the unvaccinated, who make up about 97 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations across the city. The New York State Department of Health reported another eight COVID-19 deaths in New York City on Sept. 25, including two in the Bronx, three in Brooklyn, two in Queens and one on Staten Island.

This story first appeared on amNewYork.