COVID CORNER | Bronx COVID metrics better than peer boroughs and counties, despite airborne illnesses

COVID
Prior to Monday, the Bronx had been the lone county of New York state’s 62 to remain in the low-risk category, with the exception for developing hot spots in the Fieldston/North Riverdale area.
Photo Adrian Childress

Between news of Saturday’s Legionnaires outbreak in the Highbridge section, a confirmed monkeypox case in NYC and COVID-19 cases ramping up in the north Bronx corridor, a worrying trifecta of airborne illnesses dominated the headlines during a weekend where temperatures provided a preview of summer 2022.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54 of New York’s 62 counties are now at high-risk for community COVID spread — a number that has more than doubled in the last three weeks — and the state’s daily case total just hit a number unseen since January.

Prior to Thursday, the Bronx had been the only borough in the city to remain in the low-risk category for much of the previous week, with the exception for developing hot spots in the Fieldston/North Riverdale area — where cases surpassed the city’s median 7-day per 100,000 metric — of 44.8 cases per 100,000 residents.

COVID cases are also beginning to encroach on the city’s 7-day median of 33.8 cases per 100,000 in the east Bronx sections of Morris Park’s 10461 ZIP code and Country Club’s 10465 ZIP code.

Over the last week, the northernmost borough had 3,138 new reported cases — 221.3 for every 100,000 residents — although reported cases do not include all at-home positive tests, according to city health officials.

In the Bronx, 87.8% of the borough’s residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, with 75.4% receiving two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, NIAID or a single Johnson & Johnson dose, and 26.6% having received a booster shot.

But in the CDC’s Thursday update, only Orange County, in the state’s mid-Hudson region, remained in the green. The state map is littered with high alert orange, with more than 87% of New York counties (54 of 62) now shaded orange — representing a high risk of community spread.

The federal health agency also unveiled its new community-based system earlier this year as part of an overall Biden administration pivot from a crisis approach to COVID to a more endemic one. New York City, which transitioned to a high-alert COVID status last week amid rising case and hospitalization rates, adheres to that system.

Despite the rising cases counts, no new COVID mandates are being implemented at this point. The city is instead recommending all people wear masks indoors and in other crowded settings, as is the guidance from the CDC, while continuing to stress the importance of regular testing and other protective measures.

Three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the youngest kids to receive the shots.

The news comes after months of anxious waiting by parents desperate to vaccinate their babies, toddlers and preschoolers, especially as COVID-19 cases once again are rising. The 18 million tots under 5 are the only group in the U.S. not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration has begun evaluating data from rival Moderna, which hopes to begin offering two kid-sized shots by the summer.

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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