NYC COVID Transmission Up 32% in 10 Days as 5th Wave Settles In

COVID numbers in New York City are getting worse, prompting a higher alert level and leading the health commissioner to say all options were on the table - including a new mask mandate

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New York City's COVID transmission rate is up 32% in the last 10 days, as the city and state come to grips with what looks like the start of a fifth wave of the years-long pandemic.

At 232.5 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, the citywide transmission rate is back to highs last seen in the first week of February. And Manhattan's rolling rate per 100,000 residents has now topped 300 (320.75), marking the highest transmission rate in the five boroughs. It's not even close.

While it's still a small fraction of what it was at the worst of the omicron wave, higher is higher nonetheless.

The increase doesn't include people who test positive at home. The Test & Trace Corps says those who find themselves in such situations can call 212-COVID19 for free resources but the health department doesn't register that positive test data.

The citywide transmission rate (black line) is up 32% in 10 days and at levels last seen three months ago.

The city already raised its alert level to "medium" this week, and on Thursday, Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan told CNN all options could be on the table -- including the return of a mask mandate -- if things continue getting worse.

The latest spike in the city is being driven by Manhattan, where the positivity rate in some neighborhoods exceeds 16%.

In just the last week, one out of every 235 residents of the Upper West Side has tested positive, the city's highest rate.

NYC is raising its COVID alert level as the number of new cases rises. It is a new alert system put into effect earlier in 2022, and for now it has been raised to medium, which won't yet bring new restrictions, but that could change if it goes higher. NBC New York's Andrew Siff reports.

NYS COVID Cases Rising

The problem is not confined to the city, though - it's a statewide issue, as the highly contagious subvariant B.2.12.1 spreads around New York.

On Tuesday statewide hospitalizations crossed 2,000 for the first time in three months, and on Wednesday, the number of new daily cases topped 10,000 for the first time since late January.

In both cases, that's about triple where those metrics were a month ago.

On Friday, New York reported 13,902 new positive tests - about 65% higher than just a week previously. Hospitalizations are now at 2,187, up nearly 10% just this week.

Two NYC boroughs -- Manhattan and Staten Island -- are now considered medium-risk COVID counties by the CDC. Of the 56 U.S. counties with a high-risk CDC designation as of Wednesday, more than half are in New York state.

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