New York State registers twice as positive as Covid-19 compared to a month ago, when health experts at the weekend raised concerns about a new rise in infections.
The state reported a further 661 cases on Saturday, when the seven-day average positivity rate reached 0.79 percent, almost double the record low of 0.4 percent set last month.
“Positivity is rising due to an increase in the number of infections likely to occur among unvaccinated individuals,” Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, told the Financial Times. “Positivity is higher in societies with lower vaccine intake.”
The degree of positivity in New York City and the heavily populated Long Island already exceeds 1 percent. However, hospitalizations were almost halved during the same period.
El-Sadr said the rate is likely to continue given the new variants circulating, “especially those that are more transmissible and if there is no further uptake of vaccinations, and as there are less restrictions in place regarding limits on collection of size and relaxation of masking recommendations ”.
Some health authorities have played down the rising rate. New York Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said last week that positivity is no longer a critical measure.
But other medical experts disagree. “This is important as it tells us where transmission is taking place and where more testing services are needed and where greater efforts are needed to continue to increase vaccination intake,” El-Sadr said.
“With more vaccination, there will be less infections and also less serious illness that requires hospitalization and fewer deaths among those with Covid-19,” she added.
According to Johns Hopkins University studies, areas in the United States with low vaccination rates should prepare for a wave of infections. Local hotspots are popping up, especially in the south, midwest and west.
Prices have risen over the past two weeks in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“I think we should be aware that the number of cases is increasing, especially in non-vaccinated populations,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.