New York City‘s health experts are warning that the pace of re-openings is too quick, as 25 of the city’s zip codes show a COVID positivity rate of 10 per cent or more.
New variants that could be more virulent than the original now emerging in the city also could be contributing to the spread of the virus.
Mark Levine, a City Council member and chair of the New York City health committee, said on Sunday that the last time the city had such rates of positive tests was shortly before the winter surge in cases.
‘This time we have vaccination on our side…and variants working against us,’ he said.
‘It adds up to a tenuous situation for a the next few weeks.’
Staten Island, southern Brooklyn, and parts of the Bronx and Queens were hardest-hit.
Manhattan was comparatively spared when it came to the hardest-hit areas of the five boroughs.
New Yorkers on Sunday are seen in Washington Square Park in Manhattan, as COVID rises
The warm weather was bringing crowds outdoors, seen along the west of Manhattan Sunday
Twenty seven per cent of New York City adults have received at least one vaccine shot, and 13 per cent have received both, according to city health data.
A year ago the city was about to become the global epicenter of the virus.
On Friday, indoor dining capacity within the city expanded to 50 per cent, and state wide to 75 per cent, with some health experts warning that the pace of re-opening is too quick, especially as some new variants emerge.
A Brooklyn resident with no travel history was listed on Saturday the first person in New York City to have a confirmed case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.
The Brazilian variant is considered more contagious than the first version of the coronavirus. There is a possibility current vaccines will not be as effective against it as earlier virus variants.
Meanwhile, Dr Scott Gottlieb has warned that a New York variant of COVID-19 could reinfect survivors of the virus and people who have been vaccinated.
The former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner spoke to CBS’ Margaret Brennan on ‘Face the Nation’ about the variant known as B.1.526 and said it is not yet known where it is causing an increase in cases in parts of New York City.
He warned: ‘What we don’t understand with 1.526 is whether or not people are being re-infected with it and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it.
‘The question is whether 1.526 is responsible for some of the increases that we’re seeing in New York right now and whether this is the beginning of a new outbreak inside the city.’
On Friday, New York saw 59 die statewide from the virus.
The sobering news from New York City comes as, nationwide, the country appears to be moving in the right direction.
New Yorkers on Saturday enjoyed temperatures that exceeded 65 degrees in Central Park
Pharmacist Mia Yu administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Queens on Thursday
The United States has administered 124,481,412 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines as of 6am ET on Sunday, the agency said.
The CDC has not yet updated how many doses have been distributed.
According to the tally posted on March 20, the agency had administered 121,441,497 doses of the vaccines and distributed 156,734,555 doses.
The agency said 81,415,769 people had received at least one dose while 44,141,228 people are fully vaccinated as of Sunday.
A total of 7,662,913 vaccine doses have been administered in long-term care facilities, the agency said.
The U.S. has, as of late Sunday, recorded 29,812,343 cases and 542,246 deaths.
What states are loosening rules?
Across the US restrictions are lifting – including relaxed rules on masks, social distancing, restaurant and establishment capacity and public gatherings.
At the end of March, Arkansas will become the seventh state to end mask mandates, as decided by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
‘It’s not going to take away from the seriousness of the virus and we’ve got to continue to pay attention,’ Hutchinson said of lifting mask mandates state-wide in Arkansas.
‘Even though we take away the mask mandate, we’re still going to make sure that we do everything that we can to protect ourselves and others and recognize the virus is still there,’ he continued.
Alabama could become the eighth state to join the list as Governor Kay Ivey has set an April expiration date for her state’s mask order.
So far, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming have already lifted their requirements for public mask wearing.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden called Texas and Mississippi lifting their orders ‘neanderthal thinking’.