COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in New York City as people return to the familiar pre-pandemic levels of traveling in and out of the state during the holiday season.
The progress New Yorkers have made with COVID-19 vaccinations efforts — 72.7% of Bronxites have received at least one dose of the vaccine entering Wednesday — is allowing for a slow recovery in tourism and travel.
City-run rapid testing at travel locations such as John F. Kennedy International Airport helped detect a positive COVID-19 case for Claremont native Maurice Saunders whose holiday plans to visit Detroit were interrupted, as a result.
“It’s funny because I’m vaccinated and wanted to head back home but COVID was like gotcha,” said Saunders, who is 29. “But thanks to the vaccine, I’m not feeling like I need to be laid up in the hospital. But losing my sense of taste and being stuck … for the holidays has been difficult.”
In some areas of the Bronx, COVID case spikes took place in Wakefield’s 10470 and Castle Hill’s 10473 ZIP codes, with increases of 15.2 cases per 100,000 and 14.5 cases per 100,000 over the past seven days, respectively. The Bronx has averaged 193 new confirmed cases per day entering Wednesday. On average, more than 6,000 people a day are now testing positive for COVID-19 in New York State, rates last seen in the spring. The number of New Yorkers out of every 100,000 population testing positive is up 57% versus two weeks prior.
When asked where he thought he had contracted the virus, Saunders said he wasn’t sure, but after he tested positive he did text everyone he had seen in the last 72 hours.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise again, as are deaths — just like a year ago, though at a much lower level thanks to vaccinations. As of Sunday, the state reported that 78% of all New Yorkers ages 18 and up were fully vaccinated, and 66% of all residents when including children.
On Nov. 19, the U.S. opened COVID-19 booster shots to all adults and took the extra step of urging people 50 and older to seek one, aiming to ward off a winter surge as coronavirus cases rise even before millions of Americans travel for the holidays.
The Bronx had the lowest transmission rates in the Five Borough region and is averaging one death per week, according to state health data. Those numbers are in sharp contrast from the 100-deaths per day totals that were being reported in March 2020.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.