What you should know
- The delta variant was found in 83% of the positive samples in New York City studied, up from 72% in the last DOH report and 57% the week before.
- This strain is now prevalent in New Jersey as well.
- Current vaccines have shown effective protection against the variant, although the government and vaccine manufacturers now say booster doses will be needed soon.
NEW YORK — The highly contagious delta variant continues to expand across New York City, now accounting for 83% of all positive samples, and all major city indicators are moving in the wrong direction.
The situation is deteriorating so rapidly, in fact, that as of Friday, all five boroughs in the city are now meeting CDC guidelines to be considered “high transmission” areas where additional precautions, including masking, must be taken. overall interior.
The most likely new confirmed cases increased by 25% in the city compared to the previous week, and 70% compared to the previous two weeks. The seven-day moving averages of overall positive tests, positive tests as a percentage of all tests, hospitalizations, and deaths are all above the 28-day averages, indicating a steeper curve.
There are certainly some slight signs of optimism: Total new daily cases finally fell slightly this week after weeks of steady increases. Vaccines are also on the rise, spurred by the city’s offer of $100 per first dose, as well as new measures that are increasingly halting daily life for the unvaccinated.
But the battle against the delta variant is far from over, it is just beginning, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city leaders have made clear.
The unpublished presentation from the CDC, obtained by NBC News, underscores the growing severity of the situation: an estimated 35,000 symptomatic infections per week nationwide among those already vaccinated.
(However, unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to become infected and 25 times more likely to be hospitalized or die, according to the CDC.)
As of Friday, the delta variant that first devastated India before spreading globally, and thought to be much more contagious than the widely tracked first alpha variant, represents 83% of city samples tested in the past four weeks, According to the last week of the week. Data from the city health department.
It only took 14 days for Delta to jump from the city’s fourth most common COVID strain to first, first overtaking the so-called New York City strain that initially appeared in Washington Heights before spreading to other locations as well as other rapid strains. reproduction. Variants that first appeared in the UK and Brazil. These two “variables of concern” now account for less than 10% of new city cases.
As the delta expands, exacerbating what the CDC has described as a “non-vaccinated pandemic,” nearly all major metrics are getting worse in New York City; It hasn’t even come close to the city’s darkest day yet, but it’s still growing.
Over the past two weeks, the proportion of people who have tested positive for the virus has nearly doubled and is now nearly 3.3%.
Delta, the variant that was first found in India and is now found in at least 104 countries, its prevalence in the United States has increased dramatically over the past month, and now accounts for more than 80% of samples tested, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Scientific evidence has shown that Delta spreads much more easily than previous strains of the virus and causes more severe outcomes for those infected, prompting new efforts at all levels of government to vaccinate people if they are not.
Officials now believe the delta variant may be more contagious than the common cold and as contagious as chickenpox, well known to generations of parents as one of life’s most contagious viruses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, vaccinated and delta-infected people can have the same viral load as an unvaccinated infected person and be contagious.
The World Health Organization, which has described it as the “fastest and best-fitted” strain to date, expects it to become the world’s dominant strain.
Given the relatively small subset of positive samples sequenced to assess potential strain differences, both the CDC and local experts believe that delta prevalence, classified as a variable of concern, is much higher than has been reported.
That variable is blamed for an increase in cases in the United States, which has seen confirmed new cases double each day by six since July 1 — now more than 120,000 people a day test positive nationwide, back to levels last seen in early March. While hospitalizations and daily deaths remain relatively low, these are late indicators and may increase as deltas spread into non-fortified areas.
The latest data from the CDC shows that it is indeed increasing.
“There is a very clear message: This is turning into a vulnerable pandemic,” Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said recently. “We are seeing outbreaks in parts of the country with low immunization coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”
The White House says the Biden administration believes cases will continue to rise in the coming weeks due to the spread of the virus within communities with low vaccination rates.
Current vaccines are expected to protect people from Deltas and other worrisome variants that have emerged, but with less than 60% of fully vaccinated vaccines, increased Delta transmissibility and associated risks have led to renewed concerns.
The situation is so urgent that New York City will now pay non-vaccinated people $100 to get their first dose at a city-operated site. Starting in mid-September, vaccinations will be required to eat indoors, work out at the gym, or attend any type of indoor entertainment.
The city has also expanded its referral rewards program to local nonprofits and has focused sharply on encouraging private practice physicians to encourage their patients who have not yet been vaccinated, for whatever reason, to be given now.
Now is an opportunity to keep the city’s lead against COVID-19, says De Blasio, and to take advantage of the effectiveness of the current vaccine to limit delta spread.
Across the state, new daily COVID numbers have approached 3,000 in recent days from the roughly 300 to 400 the state reported in early July. Daily deaths, so far, remain low.