COVID transmission plunging in NYC, except in low-vaxxed Brooklyn

Women walk with protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Brooklyn
COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in New York City — but not in areas of Brooklyn where vaccination rates are low, and the deadly virus is flourishing.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Even with the highly-contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 making up 98 percent of all new virus cases citywide, the rate of transmission is plunging thanks to the ongoing vaccination effort, according to the latest New York City Health Department data.

The transmission rate — used to gauge the community spread of COVID-19 — has dropped citywide to 94.52 cases per 100,000 people. Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx are seeing transmission rates below the citywide figure, but the numbers are far higher in Brooklyn and Staten Island, largely due to both boroughs having some of the lowest fully-vaccinated rates in the entire city.

New York City Health Department

Staten Island continues to have the highest transmission rate in the city, at 130.63 per 100,000 people, while Brooklyn now comes in a close second at 121.53 per 100,000 residents. Combined, the two boroughs have 23 of the 53 communities across New York City where less than 60 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

An examination of the 19 Brooklyn neighborhoods — each of which has a population in excess of 45,000 — shows that COVID-19 is particularly thriving there.

Borough Park, which had the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate and the highest 7-day positivity rate in the entire city the previous week, again saw a propensity of COVID-19 infections during the week of Oct. 6-12. The community saw 153 new infections and a 7-day positivity rate of 6.78 percent — both of which ranked the second highest across all of New York City. Yet just 43 percent of the community’s population of 90,043 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The same could be said of Williamsburg/East Williamsburg (11211), which registered a citywide high of 175 new COVID-19 cases and a 7-day positivity rate of 4.37 percent the week of Oct. 6-12. This is particularly troublesome for the dense community of more than 100,000 residents on the East River waterfront, where just 53 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated.

Two other Brooklyn communities saw more than 100 new COVID-19 cases over the past week: Crown Heights (11213, 110) and Midwood (11230, 101). Not surprisingly, both of these areas also have fully vaccinated rates under 50 percent.

Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Looking citywide, eight of the 15 areas with the highest 7-day positivity rates between Oct. 6-12 had fully vaccinated rates of under 60 percent. Breezy Point, Queens — where the number wildly fluctuates due to its sparse population — had the highest 7-day positivity rate at 6.96 percent, but just eight new infections during the period.

Borough Park, Williamsburg, Gerritsen Beach, Crown Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Midwood had the second- through seventh-highest positivity rates in the city. 

All of the communities had a positivity rate of at least 2.92 percent and (except for Breezy Point) no fewer than 19 new cases during the period.

The 15 areas of New York City with the highest 7-day positivity rates between Oct. 6-12, 2021.New York City Health Department

Conversely, the areas of New York City that have the best vaccination rates are seeing many fewer COVID-19 infections.

Thirteen communities have at least 90 percent of their population fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of them are in Manhattan, including Chelsea, the Financial District, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, Murray Hill and Tribeca. The others are in Queens: Flushing/Queensboro Hill, Elmhurst, Astoria/Long Island City and Jackson Heights.

Of the 10 areas with the highest fully vaccinated rates, not one of them had a 7-day positivity rate of 1.54 percent or more than 50 infections. Elmhurst — which, during the spring of 2020, was the deadly epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis — now had only 38 new infections and a 1.41 percent 7-day positivity rate between Oct. 6-12.  

The 7-day positivity rates in the 10 areas of New York City with the highest fully vaccinated rates.New York City Health Department

Across the city, the Health Department reported the key indicators show decreasing spread of COVID-19. As of Oct. 15, the city’s 7-day positivity rate was down to 1.79 percent, with a hospitalization rate of 0.67 per 100,000 residents.

The virus continues to disproportionately target and sicken unvaccinated individuals. Since Jan. 17 of this year, 511,972 of the 555,177 (92.2 percent) COVID-19 cases (92.2 percent) — and 7,412 of the 7,712 COVID-19 deaths (96.1 percent) — involved unvaccinated people.

By contrast, only 43,205 people out of the 6,011,736 New Yorkers who got at least one dose of the vaccine (0.0071 percent) have contracted COVID-19. Just 300 of those breakthrough infections (0.0069 percent) were fatal.

New York City Health Department

This story first appeared on amNewYork.