New York State recorded double the positivity rates for Covid-19 compared to a month ago, as health experts over the weekend raised concerns about a new rise in infections.
The state reported another 661 cases on Saturday in which the seven-day average positive rate reached 0.79 percent, almost twice the record low of 0.4 percent set last month.
“Positivity is growing due to an increase in the number of infections occurring among unvaccinated individuals,” Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, told the Financial Times. “Positivity is higher in communities with lower vaccination.”
Positivity rates in heavily populated New York City and Long Island already exceed 1%. However, admission to the hospital was 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 more vaccination and that fewer restrictions are in place in terms of limits on to the size of collecting and facilitating the masking recommendations ”.
Some health authorities have minimized the growing rate. Dave Chokshi, New York City’s health commissioner, said last week that positivity is no longer a critical metric.
But other medical experts disagree. “It’s important because it tells us where transmission is happening and where there is a need to locate more test services and also where more efforts are going to continue to increase vaccine intake,” El-Sadr said.
“With more vaccinations there will be fewer infections and even fewer serious diseases that require hospitalization and fewer deaths among those with Covid-19,” he added.
According to research from Johns Hopkins University, areas of the United States with low vaccination rates should be prepared for a wave of infections. Localized hotspots are emerging, particularly in the South, Midwest and West.
Rates have risen in the past two weeks in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“I think we need to prepare to see an increase in cases, especially in unvaccinated populations,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior student at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.