Fueled by coronavirus hot spot zones in Brooklyn and Queens, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases in the Big Apple is steadily rising and inching closer to the city’s threshold.
“There is no herd immunity in any of the neighborhoods where we are most concerned or any other neighborhood in New York City,” city Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s City Hall press briefing Thursday.
“This is so important to ensure that people understand that unfortunately the coronavirus continues to be very infectious, continues to spread and so we have to take the precautions that we are embarking upon,” Chokshi said.
According to the latest city data, the Big Apple’s seven-day rolling average of new virus cases is at 526 — just 24 away from the city’s threshold of 550 cases, after which further restrictions could be considered citywide.
That number has been incrementally rising in recent weeks, the data shows. On Sept. 15, that figure was just below 300.
Chokshi added that between 25 and 30 percent of coronavirus cases across the five boroughs are “concentrated within those areas of greatest concern.”
New state-ordered coronavirus restrictions went into effect in those problem areas in swaths of Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday to stem the spread of the killer bug.
De Blasio explained that though the number of new coronavirus cases is rising, other COVID-19 measures like hospitalizations and infection rate still remain low.
The latest data shows that on Tuesday, 89 people were admitted to city hospitals with suspected COVID-19 and 23 percent of them tested positive, while the daily percentage of people testing positive citywide is at 0.33 percent.
The citywide infection rate on a seven-day rolling average is at 1.56 percent, according to the data.
“Obviously there’s some real difference in the measures at this point,” de Blasio said. “We thank God, we know there could be some big challenges ahead obviously in terms of hospitalization, but right now it remains overall low.”
De Blasio said the coronavirus case numbers have gone up in part due to more testing.
In the week between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6, there were more than 250,000 tests conducted citywide — the highest number of tests done in a one week period to date.
“We’ve never gotten to that level [of testing] before,” de Blasio said.
The mayor noted, “Overall, I think we’re very clear about our direction, our ability to keep things in check, but what we do know is certain areas of the city need deep restrictions to ensure we don’t have a bigger problem.”
Dr. Jay Varma, de Blasio’s senior adviser for public health, added that the thresholds the city has set for its COVID-19 indicators are meant to be used “like warning lights — signals that would tell us we needed to take stronger action.”
“The important aspect here to understand is we actually took action and very strong action, even before these warning lights flash,” he said. “We really focused and identified early on, that this was largely being driven by one geographic area.”
Varma explained that recent trends show “that the proportion of people that are reporting that they recently traveled as a risk factor has declined over the past few weeks.”
“This is an implication that we’re getting more transmission locally here in New York City as opposed to imported,” he said.
Varma said a proportion of people who “don’t recall any specific factor that might have caused their transmission, such as having a known contact or having been to a recent gathering has also increased slightly.”
Those two factors, said Varma, “are what has led us to be concerned about local transmission, as well as specifically in these areas, what we call widespread transmission.”
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