NY ‘turning the corner’ on COVID winter surge, Gov says

kathy hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul.
File photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor

New York is “turning the corner” on the winter surge of COVID-19 amid dropping infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday.

“We believe we’re finally turning the corner on the winter wave. Just like the snow is melting, hopefully these numbers will continue to melt away,” Hochul said during a COVID press briefing at North Central Bronx Hospital on Feb. 1.

The latest numbers show 7,119 positive coronavirus cases as of Jan. 31, a 92 percent drop from three weeks ago when the state’s Department of Health registered a whopping 90,132 cases on Jan. 7.

The infection rate across a seven-day average was 5.9 percent, a nearly 17-point drop from a 23 percent peak on Jan. 2, and there were 7,100 hospitalizations, down from a peak of 12,671 on Jan. 11, according to DOH data. 

There were 122 people who died from the virus, up from 87 the day before, according to the governor’s office.

The case numbers only reflect PCR tests taken at testing sites and neither health departments in the state nor New York City collects data on people who do at-home tests, which have become more widely available during the Omicron wave.

The 11220 Zip code, which covers Sunset Park, has seen the most new cases over the past week, with a 7-day average of 386 new cases every 24 hours. 

Meanwhile, the 11211 Zip code (covering Williamsburg) has seen similarly high case counts, with 301 new cases each day over the past week. 

Brooklyn Zip codes account for the five areas in the Big Apple with the most cases, with Borough Park, Brighton Beach, and Bensonhurst also seeing alarmingly high new cases. 

Boroughwide, Kings County has seen a 5.78 percent positivity rate of COVID-19 cases, down from a 35.54 percent earlier this month, according to city statistics.

While the concerns around overwhelmed hospitals were abating, Hochul said the pandemic was not over yet, with vaccinations among younger kids increasing at slow rates. 

The DOH will hold a free virtual public forum of health experts sharing their insights and research on long COVID Thursday, Feb. 3, examining the longer-term symptoms affecting some who are infected with the virus.

The governor’s mask-or-vaccine mandate for indoor public spaces is set to expire by Feb. 10, but the governor declined to say if she plans to extend it further until the end of the month.

The state has struggled to get younger New Yorkers aged 5-11 the shots, with only 37.9 percent with at least one dose and 28.1 percent with both doses, far lower than their older counterparts.

“We’re focused on the fact that those numbers, as much as they’re going upwards, are not where they should be. They’re nowhere close to what they should be,” Hochul said.

Drug manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech are reportedly going to file for emergency use of a vaccine regimen for even younger kids aged between six months and 5-years-old with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as early as Tuesday. 

Almost 80 percent of 12-17-year-olds have gotten at least one dose and 69.5 percent in that age bracket have received both. Adults have the highest intake rate at upwards of 95 percent for the first dose and 84 percent for a completed vaccination series.

The New York State Consortium on Long COVID will be on Thursday, Feb. 3 from 8:45 am – 2:30 pm Register online for free at ny.gov/longcovidpanel.