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New York state has double the positivity rates for Covid-19 compared to a month ago, as health experts expressed concerns over a further rise in infections over the weekend.
The state reported another 661 cases on Saturday as the seven-day average positivity rate reached 0.79%, nearly double the record 0.4% set last month.
“Positivity is increasing due to an increase in the number of infections likely to occur among unvaccinated people,” Wafaa El-Sadr, epidemiologist at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, told the Financial Times. “Positivity is higher in communities where vaccination is lower. “
Positivity rates in New York City and the heavily populated Long Island already exceed 1%. However, hospital admissions had almost halved over the same period.
El-Sadr said the rate is expected to continue given the new variants in circulation, “especially those that are more transmissible and if there is no more vaccination and as fewer restrictions are in place in terms of limits of Gathering size and relaxation of the masking recommendations ”.
Some health authorities downplayed the rate hike. Dave Chokshi, New York City’s health commissioner, said last week that positivity was no longer a critical measure.
But other medical experts disagree. “This is important because it tells us where transmission is occurring and where there is a need to locate more testing services and also where more efforts need to continue to increase uptake of vaccination,” El-Sadr said.
“With more vaccination, there will be fewer infections and also fewer serious illnesses requiring hospitalizations and fewer deaths among people with Covid-19,” she added.
According to research from Johns Hopkins University, areas of the United States with low vaccination rates should prepare for a wave of infections. Localized hotspots are emerging, especially in the South, Midwest and West.
Rates have increased over the past two weeks in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“I think we should be prepared to see an increase in cases, especially in unvaccinated populations,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.