Despite having some of the strictest COVID-19 mandates in the country, some researchers and medical experts are befuddled about why New York continues to see a surge in cases.
At the outset of the pandemic, New York became the first state to impose a mandatory mask mandate on all residents leaving the house, and its vaccination program is among the most elaborate in the country, however, the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise at an unexpected rate.
As of Wednesday, March 31, a total of 5,971,395 New Yorkers have been vaccinated, representing approximately 30 percent of the population. Additionally, 3,463,736 have completed the vaccine process.
However, the numbers “mysteriously” continue to rise, and experts cannot pinpoint the exact reason why.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, a New York epidemiologist specializing in pandemic response, told The Daily Beast that in reality, “no one knows exactly why” there has been a spike in cases.
Many are pointing to the more contagious variants as the main reason for the spike. Those variants represent over 70 percent of COVID cases in New York City during the week of March 15-21, according to the NYC Health Department.
“There are a lot of factors in New York that have to do with population density, lots of people who are in marginalized populations or living in poverty, and all of these factors tend to exacerbate the spread and reduce access to vaccines,” he said.
“But one of my colleagues pointed out that this is not dissimilar to places like Detroit, where they are not seeing a surge.”
Following a post-holiday surge of the virus in New York, the state saw the COVID-19 numbers trending in the right direction for several weeks, with the infection rate dropping below where it was before Thanksgiving.
However, in recent weeks, with new variants of the COVID-19 strain becoming more prevalent, and the weather warming up, many have become more lax in protecting against the spread of the virus.
The country is averaging more than 63,000 cases per day, up approximately 15 percent from two weeks ago, while New York and New Jersey continue to lead the country in new cases per capita, with infection numbers particularly high around the densely populated boroughs in New York City.
In New York, there has been a 43 percent increase in new cases over the past two weeks, with more than 1.8 million confirmed infections, while fatalities are up 15 percent as the death toll approaches 50,000 statewide.
State officials reported 67,963 new cases for the latest seven-day period, an increase of 26,557 from the previous week, meaning COVID-19 is spreading fastest on a per-person basis in the country.
“We’re not doing enough genomic surveillance,” Redlener said. “It may be that we’re dealing with some yet unidentified strains in New York.
“Unfortunately, the conclusion is we don't know why the New York Metro area is being hit,” he continued. “We don't have a lot of information that really explains this uniqueness. It’s a mystery that will eventually be unraveled—but not yet.”
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