What to Know
- The delta variant now accounts for 94% of all NYC samples tested in the last four weeks, though for the first time, transmission rates appear to be stabilizing, new health data released Friday shows
- All five counties that comprise NYC are still considered "high transmission" areas per the CDC; so are all but one of NJ's 21 counties and eight counties in CT, where towns are renewing mask rules
- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that all students and staff participating in high-risk sports (football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse, rugby and bowling) must be vaccinated
The highly contagious delta variant continues to spread through New York City, now accounting for 94% of all positive samples -- but for the first time in weeks, transmission rates are easing slightly and other indicators are stabilizing a bit.
All five counties that comprise New York City are considered "high transmission" areas per the CDC. But the transmission rate (total new cases per 100,000 people over the prior seven days) is down about 3% in just the last week, according to the city health department's latest update Friday.
It took only 14 days for delta to vault from the fourth most common COVID strain in the city to the first, overtaking first the so-called New York City strain that initially emerged in Washington Heights before spreading elsewhere, as well as other fast-spreading variants that first emerged in the UK and Brazil. Those latter two "variants of concern" now account for just 2% of new city cases in the latest study period.
The CDC's "high transmission" designation also holds true for all but one of New Jersey's 21 counties, doubling in less than two weeks, and five in Connecticut, where an increasing number of cities and towns are renewing mask rules.
Nearly 87% of all U.S. counties fall into that same category, a roughly 9% increase in just the last week. Another 8% are "substantial transmission" rate areas. Under CDC guidance, that means universal indoor mask-wearing is now recommended for 95% of all counties in the United States regardless of vaccination status.
Delta now also accounts for more than 95% of COVID-positive samples tested across the state of New York and nearly 94% of New Jersey samples. It is also far and away the dominant strain nationally, where it represents 97% of all positive samples tested and continues to fuel case surges in unvaccinated communities.
The rolling daily case average for the United States is up 44% over the last 14 days, while tests are up 33%, according to The New York Times. Hospitalizations are up 53% and deaths are up 108% in that same time period, the paper's data shows.
In New York, COVID hospitalizations are up 146% since Aug. 1 alone, while the state hasn't seen a single-day death count below the double digits in more than a week.
COVID patients in intensive care are up 157% since Aug. 1 and now stand at 391, nearly four times what they were this time in July -- concerning numbers reflective of a national trend that has officials invigorating vaccination pushes with a fervency not seen for months as schools reopen across the country in person.
A day ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a huge new incentive for New York City PTAs in a final bid to boost vaccinations before the nation's largest public school district reopens its doors on Sept. 13. There will be no remote learning option this year.
And on Friday, the mayor announced that all students and staff participating in high-risk sports must be vaccinated. That includes football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse, rugby and bowling.
More on COVID-19
But NYC COVID Cases Are Stabilizing
New confirmed plus probable cases are down 11% in New York City versus a week prior, though still slightly higher than two weeks ago. The seven-day rolling averages for positive tests and for hospitalizations are still higher than the 28-day averages, suggesting the curve hasn't fully flattened yet.
Vaccination efforts appear do appear to be working, also thanks to new measures increasingly closing daily life to the unvaccinated. The number of doses administered daily in New York doubled this month compared with July, but doctors say it will take several weeks for the latest spike in hospitalizations to level off.
At the same time, new state data this week showed that the vaccines were losing their effectiveness at preventing infection with the delta variant.
That research was dropped Wednesday, the same day federal health officials recommended a third vaccine dose for all fully immunized Americans.
The federal booster shot plan still requires FDA approval. Once that happens, the first third doses should start being administered to fully vaccinated people the week of Sept. 20. Find out where you can get one in the tri-state area here.