COVID CORNER | Virus hot spots in Castle Hill, Morris Park see cases triple

COVID home test handouts
With rising case counts and dwindling supplies, people line up on Fordham Road on Dec. 23, for free at-home COVID tests.
Photo Adrian Childress
  • The Castle Hill section averaged 349.9 cases per 100,000 over the past week, and was one of the city’s 10 highest-spreading ZIP codes.
  • The omicron variant was estimated to be 58.6% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25.
  • NYC Mayor Eric Adams assured parents that city schools are safe, despite a record-breaking surge of the virus.

As the world rang in a new year, COVID-19 cases continued to explode across the nation, with the omicron variant driving up caseloads in the Bronx by more than 7,000 heading into the New Year’s weekend.

Hot spots are becoming prevalent in the Bronx, as sections like Castle Hill and Morris Park saw caseloads averaged 300 or more cases per 100,000 residents this past week.

Entering Monday, the Castle Hill/Clason Point/Soundview 10473 section — which has 349.9 cases per 100,000 over the past week — was one of the city’s 10 highest-spreading ZIP codes, far surpassing the city’s median total of 242.1 cases per 100,000.

Despite the 79.6% of Bronx residents receiving at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, the borough’s positivity rate has jumped from 1.2% at the end of November to 13.5% at the start of the new year.

Hospitalizations, however, have stabilized. In the Bronx, 80% of the borough’s ICU space is filled, with 47 patients hospitalized for COVID, with further data suggesting that Bronx ICU’s can absorb the increase in COVID cases.

One of the first big tests for new NYC Mayor Eric Adams and his administration is steering the city through its current wave of  COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. On Monday, Adams, who officially took office on Saturday, assured parents that NYC schools are safe, despite a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases.

“COVID is a formidable opponent and it continues to evolve, and we must pivot and evolve with it, but you can’t do it viewing yourself from within the crisis,” Adams told anchor George Stephanopoulos exclusively during a media appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We have to see ourselves past the crisis.”

The omicron variant was estimated to be 58.6% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Adams’ predecessor, Bill de Blasio, announced a plan last week to reopen schools with extra precautions including increased surveillance, COVID-19 testing, and at-home COVID-19 tests sent home with students who have an infected classmate.

Public schools are doubling the amount of weekly testing, and both vaccinated and unvaccinated students will now be tested. Previously, just 10% of unvaccinated students were tested.

The city is also changing its rules to limit quarantine. Instead of an entire classroom shifting to remote learning when one or more students test positive, all students in the class will be given rapid at-home tests.

Also on Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15, and narrowed the time for all booster shots from six months to 5 months after primary doses.

The agency also authorized a third shot in children aged 5 through 11 years who are immunocompromised.

Read our previous COVID Corner update here.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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