Coronavirus tests in New York City are coming back positive at the highest rate since the first wave of the pandemic receded in June, Big Apple officials revealed Wednesday as they again sounded the alarm about a COVID-19 second wave.
“This is our LAST chance to stop a second wave,” tweeted Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We can do it, but we have to act NOW.”
Figures from the city Health Department show that the average positivity rate for coronavirus tests taken over the last seven days has climbed to 2.52 percent — the highest rate since the Big Apple recorded a 2.61 percent positivity rate on June 9.
The daily number of new COVID cases in New York City climbed again too, hitting 817, which is nearly 50 percent above the city’s threshold of 550 new daily cases.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has imposed new restrictions over the last two weeks in the Hudson Valley and central and western portions of upstate New York to contain outbreaks there. The rules include new limits on indoor dining and gatherings as well as new frequent testing requirements for teachers and students returning to in-person learning.
Across New York state, Cuomo said that 3.09 percent of coronavirus test results returned Tuesday came back positive. Suburban Westchester County is fighting back an outbreak in Port Chester, where the seven-day average positive test rate is a frightening 8.02 percent.
These outbreaks come weeks after Cuomo ordered the partial shutdown of portions of southern Brooklyn and Queens to contain coronavirus outbreaks in largely Orthodox neighborhoods, where residents often congregated inside and failed to regularly wear masks.
Officials say the lockdowns helped to bring the virus back under control in many of those areas and restrictions have since been relaxed or removed.
But de Blasio and top city health officials warned this week the city’s data paints an even more troubling picture — that COVID-19 is beginning to spread again in communities again with just 20 percent of cases linked to travel or large events that seed the virus.
The return of community spread makes it far more difficult to use the city’s testing and disease tracing programs to identify the source of infection and contain it.
Health officials believe that frightening uptick in cases is being fueled by usually small indoor gatherings where people are failing to wear masks — and that it can be slowed if more New Yorkers follow masking and social distancing rules more closely.
For their part, Cuomo and de Blasio have spent the last several days beseeching New Yorkers to continue using face covering.
This surge comes as the pandemic enters its ninth month, having already killed more than 23,000 people in the five boroughs alone. Across the country, the death toll now sits at roughly 240,000.
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