COVID-19 cases spike citywide as winter approaches; barriers lifted for booster shots

NYC health officials are urging vaccinated residents to receive COVID-19 booster shots as colder temperatures become more common in NYC.
(Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

After a summer of progress against COVID-19’s Delta variant strain, New York City coronavirus cases are beginning to climb back up again due to colder temperatures, and city health officials are urging vaccinated individuals to get their COVID-19 booster shots, especially if you were last vaccinated more than six months ago.

The Bronx saw two consecutive 100-case load days entering Tuesday. However, local vaccination efforts in the borough steadied, with roughly 71.6% of the population receiving at one dose of the vaccine, according to city health data.

The Bronx has the city’s second-fewest vaccinated population per capita ⁠— 62.5% of Bronxites are fully vaccinated — but has seen major success in central Bronx sections like Parkchester and Morris Park, the latter of which surpassed the 80% vaccination rate entering Tuesday. Additionally, City Island and Riverdale have also reported vaccination rates of more than 75%.

Neighborhoods like the Bronx’s Wakefield section where 69% of its residents have received one dose of the vaccine, saw a major spike in COVID cases this week, reporting 13.3 cases per 100,000 residents.

The city’s uptick in coronavirus cases coincides with colder weather with more people staying indoors, Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said Monday. He said waning immunity for people who received their vaccines more than six months ago could be to blame for the resurgence.

“Although hospitalizations remain low right now, we are seeing an uptick in recent days,” he said. “We had anticipated that this might occur as the weather gets cooler and people spend more time indoors, but compared to this time last year, we have many more tools to fight COVID-19 and work to keep a winter wave at bay.”

Chokshi also announced that he’s issuing a Commissioner’s Advisory to all health care providers to ensure there are no barriers for New Yorkers to get a COVID-19 booster shot if they are over 18 and at least six months removed from their second Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months since a Johnson & Johnson shot.

“Clinicians should allow adult patients to determine their own risk of exposure, based on their individual circumstances,” he said on Twitter. “In practice, this means that providers should not turn a patient away if they request a booster.”

Despite 93% of New York City residents getting inoculated through expanded federal eligibility for vaccines, the local vaccine mandates continue to wedge a divide between NYC’s public health efforts and its unvaccinated population.

In the Kingsbridge section on Monday, 100 people rallied against a bill in the New York State Assembly, that would require all children to get the COVID vaccine in order to attend school. Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, a Republican, organized the anti-vaccine mandate press conference which saw Nazi imagery displayed prominently on some protestors’ signs outside the Bronx district office of Democratic state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish.

The Kingsbridge section has a seven-day average of 7.6 cases per 100,000, entering Tuesday.

In the Bronx, 289 out of 357 adult ICU beds (81%) are filled, with only 14 occupied by COVID patients.

With colder temperatures ushering in flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal and local health experts are also urging residents to get their yearly flu shot.

The CDC points to past experience showing that vaccines work as they should and any side effects are similar whether the shots are given separately or in the same visit.

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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