COVID-19 cases in New York City are on the rise again, particularly among people ages 25 to 34, according to city officials. The increase appears to be concentrated in Manhattan, the most vaccinated district.
In an unusual move, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene posted a warning on Twitter Wednesday, “strongly” advising New Yorkers to cover up indoors and get booster shots.
The warning came in contrast to the city’s COVID alert system, which identifies the COVID alert level as ‘low risk’.
“Cases are increasing throughout the city and in all five boroughs, which means transmission is increasing,” a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement. “Even when it’s at a low level, we encourage New Yorkers to take certain steps to protect themselves and their families.”
The increase in cases occurs as the BA.2 variant becomes more prominent across the country, and weeks after Mayor Eric Adams lifted vaccination requirements for visiting most closed public places and mask mandates in schools. Offices across the city have also called for workers to return in person, along with a push for normalcy from city officials. Some companies have also removed their mask mandates.
The city says it will reconsider implementing mask and vaccine requirements if the risk changes from low to medium.
New York City bases its risk level on city data as well as guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which looks at three metrics when classifying a community as low, medium, or discharge: new COVID admissions per 100,000 population in the last seven days, the percentage of staffed hospital beds occupied per patient, and total new cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.
A community goes from low to medium once it has 200 or more cases per 100 thousand. It then moves to high once it has more than 10 admissions per 100,000 and more than 10 percent of staffed inpatient beds, according to CDC guidance.
The latest figures from New York show almost 100 cases in the city for every 100,000 in the last seven days.
The overall seven-day average positivity rate in New York City was 2.3 percent, up from 1 percent in early March, according to city data. Heavily concentrated Manhattan neighborhoods with office buildings posted higher rates with Tribeca at 9.6 percent, the Financial District at 5.9 percent, Midtown West at 4.6 percent, and Midtown East at 4.5 percent.
At the same time, hospitalizations in the city are declining, with the seven-day average falling about 60 percent since March 1. Nationwide, the seven-day rolling average positivity rate is declining, according to data from the federal health department on March 28.
In neighboring New Jersey, the COVID transmission rate is 1, the first time it has been at or above that level since January 17. A rate greater than 1 indicates that the virus is spreading.