COVID CORNER | Bronx among CDC’s recommended counties for mask use as busy holiday travel weekend looms

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A triple threat of infectious diseases — COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — have put a strain on the state’s hospitals, and nationwide, the number of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. is still rising, with about 65,000 people testing positive every two weeks, according to a New York Times tracker.
Gerardo Romo/NYC Council

As four Bronx ZIP codes — Morris Park, Parkchester, Concourse and Co-Op City — saw their COVID metrics surpass the city’s median caseload this week, the borough has become one of the 10 New York metro counties recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to wear masks when in public indoors or while riding public transportation as a busy and wintry travel weekend nears.

A triple threat of infectious diseases — COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — have put a strain on the state’s hospitals, and nationwide, the number of new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. is still rising, with about 65,000 people testing positive every two weeks, according to a New York Times tracker.

According to the CDC, across the country over the past 10 weeks, there have been more than 150,000 flu-related hospitalizations and more than 9,300 deaths. Nine pediatric deaths were attributed to the flu, bringing the total count to 30 for the winter season.

Most of New York City’s suburbs, along with the city itself, are currently rated in the “high” tier on the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level data tracker. For areas with a designation of “high,” health officials recommend wearing a high-quality mask or respirator (e.g., N95) when indoors in public. If you are at high risk of getting very sick, officials say to consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities where virus exposure is possible.

Over the last week, the Bronx reported 3,355 new reported cases — 236.6 for every 100,000 residents — which does not include all at-home positive tests. The Morris Park-Pelham Bay area had the third-highest caseload per 100,000 residents, with 31.4 cases per 100,000.

Parkchester (29.6 cases per 100K), Concourse (30.8 cases per 100K) and Co-Op-City (29.4 cases per 100K) dwarf the city’s seven-day caseload total of 21.1.

The Bronx’s rising trend in cases has not trickled over to a rise in COVID hospitalizations and deaths; the seven-day average of 215 COVID hospitalizations is a decline from 275 the week prior. Last week, 23 people died in weeklong span from the virus, which was jump from six deaths at the start of the month.

In addition to the Bronx, the CDC recommended mask usage in nine other counties in the Excelsior state:

  • Kings County
  • New York County
  • Queens County
  • Richmond County
  • Orange County
  • Putnam County
  • Rockland County
  • Westchester County
  • Nassau County
  • Suffolk County

This holiday season is expected to be third busiest year for U.S. holiday travel this century, according to the AAA, which began tracking holiday travel in 2000. And weather forecast predict inclement, snowy weather that could threaten to delay travel plans, sequestering commuters in jam-packed airports across the nation.

Bronxite Anthony Davila hopes he can stave off any tripledemic viruses and travel delays when he heads to California.

“Yeah, I’m going to make sure I mask,” said Davila, 35. “Hopefully, the bad weather doesn’t strand us in LaGuardia for a long time.”

INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be Friday before Christmas, Dec. 27 and 28, and Monday, Jan. 2.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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