NYC begins to flatten the curve against Delta variant

A health care worker swabs a member of the press during check-in for a press event at the Barclays Center.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Though the Delta variant continues to target the unvaccinated in New York City by the thousands, signs in the latest city Health Department data indicate that the latest wave of COVID-19 infections may be starting to crest.

The 7-day average daily number of positive cases fell from 1,906 on Aug. 13 to 1,859 on Aug. 16. In that same period, the 7-day hospitalization rate also dropped from 108 on Aug. 13 to 89 three days later. 

Overall, the city’s 7-day positivity rate over the past 28 days — one of the Health Department’s “key indicators” of the COVID-19 crisis — sat on Aug. 22 at 3.82 percent, which the agency described as “stable.”

The daily 7-day positivity rate itself slid from a peak of 3.99 percent on Aug. 12 to 3.81 percent on Aug. 18.

It’s enough to give one local lawmaker — Brooklyn City Council Member Stephen Levin — some “cautious optimism” that the city’s third major COVID-19 wave in 18 months may finally be ebbing.

“This is [because] the vaccination has been consistently going up,” Levin tweeted on Sunday morning. “I give @NYCMayor [Bill de Blasio] credit for pushing the envelope on mandates.”

The vaccination effort in New York City continues to be robust as the de Blasio Administration began offering $100 incentives at city-run vaccine centers and issuing mandates for municipal workers and, as of last week, indoor restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. On Aug. 10, the 7-day average number of people vaccinated stood at 24,629; that was up from from the July 10 7-day average of 16,910. 

Low vax = more infections

The highly infectious Delta variant sparked the third major wave of COVID-19 cases across the city since July. The strain accounts for 94 percent of all COVID-19 positive diagnoses over the past four weeks, the city Health Department reported. 

The latest data also shows that 14 areas of the Big Apple had 7-day positivity rates exceeding 6 percent between Aug. 12-18. 

Four areas of Staten Island are in the top 10: Tottenville (10307, 8.65 percent, 39 new positive cases); Charleston/Prince’s Bay/Woodrow (10309, 7.45 percent, 84 new cases); Annadale/Rossville (10312, 7.41 percent, 143 new cases); and Graniteville/Mariner’s Harbor/Port Ivory (10303, 7.09 percent, 42 new cases).

Two areas of coastal Queens top the list, including the summer hamlet of Breezy Point on the western tip of the Rockaway Peninsula (11697, 12.64 percent, 33 new cases) and Howard Beach/Hamilton Beach/Lindenwood (11414, 8.66 percent, 71 new cases). 

The 15 areas of New York City with the highest 7-day positivity rates between Aug. 12-18.New York City Health Department

One major problem in the top 10 areas looks to be vaccine hesitance and refusal. With the exception of Breezy Point, where 88 percent of its 3,393 residents have received at least one dose, and Ozone Park, Queens (11416), where 69 percent of its 26,390 residents got at least one shot, the other eight communities have vaccination rates below 60 percent.

Tottenville has the worst rates on the list — with just 49 percent of its 14,912 residents with at least one dose of the vaccine, and 44 percent fully vaccinated.

The vaccination rates of the 10 neighborhoods with the highest COVID-19 7-day positivity rates between Aug. 12-18.New York City Health Department

Citywide, more than 5.3 million New Yorkers (64 percent of the population) have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 4.8 million residents (57 percent) are now fully vaccinated. The Bronx continues to be the lone borough where less than half of the population is fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, vaccinations are crawling upward in the 10 areas of New York City with the lowest fully vaccinated rates. Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Queens (11697), which has been at the bottom of the barrel for weeks, saw 801 new first-dose recipients over the past week. Still, the area remains dead last in the Five Boroughs with 42 percent of its 66,856 residents having received one dose and 36 percent fully vaccinated.

This story first appeared on amNewYork.com