COVID CORNER | Metrics indicate Bronx is slowly cooling off from omicron peak

COVID, home kits , Fordham Road
A mother receives an at-home COVID-19 test at a free distribution event in Fordham last month.
Photo Adrian Childress
  • Despite the omicron cases plateauing across the state, the central Bronx still has some high-infection clusters.
  • The Bronx has also seen a rising COVID-19 death total over the past two weeks, affecting the unvaccinated.
  • Nationwide, cases continue to spike, despite major progress made within New York’s borders.

As predicted by health leaders and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul last week, cases of the omicron variant and COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend downward within New York’s borders following a two-month rise in cases that took shape in New York City in late November. While the large COVID clusters that began forming in Midtown and Lower Manhattan over the winter saw some of its lowest case rates since the summer last week, the central Bronx still has high-spread areas in sections like Castle Hill and Parkchester entering Tuesday.

The Castle Hill section continues to be the Bronx’s highest virus corner with 198.4 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, a metric that is 30 cases higher than the city’s median average of 153.7 cases per 100,000. The statewide positivity rate was 15.7% on Jan. 17, with the highest percentages in upstate Western New York (20.9%), Central New York (20.1%) and Long Island (18.5%).

The Bronx’s positivity rate is hovering around 16.1% entering Tuesday.

However, much like the rest of the state, metrics show that omicron has most likely hit a peak in the borough, as the Bronx is cooling down from a record-high 502 cases per 100,000 on Jan. 11 to 420.7 cases per 100,000 entering Tuesday. The boroughwide decline in cases comes at a good time, as Bronx County hospitals currently have 84% of ICU space occupied — 116 beds are filled by COVID patients — suggesting hospitals may not be well-positioned to absorb a wave of new COVID infections.

The Bronx is also seeing an incremental rise in COVID-19 deaths, totaling 17.4 daily deaths over the past seven days, which is one of its highest death rates since last April. Although the statewide 7-day average for cases and hospitalizations are declining, more than 150 people died of COVID-related causes in New York state on Monday, according to recent health data.

Health data shows that while breakthrough cases have been a factor in rising COVID-19 numbers, all 17 deaths over the past week in the Bronx were among unvaccinated residents. Roughly 82.2% of Bronx residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 69.1% are considered fully vaccinated.

“I’m proud of the work New Yorkers have been putting in to keep the numbers down and protect our vulnerable loved ones,” Hochul said in a Jan. 17 statement. “While we are continuing to see promising trends, we are not through the winter surge yet and it is critical that we continue to use the tools that will help stop the spread.”

For the first time since the pandemic started, the number of COVID cases has soared beyond 800,000 a day nationwide. Despite news omicron may be peaking in New York City, White House health officials warned of a tough road ahead.

“We shouldn’t expect a national peak in the coming days. The next few weeks will be tough,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

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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