NEW YORK — On Monday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted out a photo of a laptop computer on top of a stack of books that appeared to be on her desk at the Governor’s Mansion. From there, she added, she was, “Feeling great and ready to tackle a busy week ahead!”
She is in COVID-19 isolation, after reporting on Sunday that she’d tested positive for the virus.
Also on Monday, the governor released the latest official information about COVID rates statewide. It showed a steady rise in cases, including her own.
The New York State COVID rate right now is 7.2%, or 47.7 cases out of every 100,000 people tested, based on seven-day averages. Those numbers represent a trend that’s moved steadily upward.
A month ago, on April 8, New York State’s COVID numbers were about half, or less, of what they are now. The COVID rate was 3.7%, but the cases per 100,000 — which the CDC said is a more reliable indicator of viral spread — was far lower than it is now, at 22.2 cases per 100,000.
Dr. Susannah Hills, an airway surgeon, and ear, nose and throat specialist at Columbia University, reacted.
“It’s not surprising,” she said, “given the constellation of things that happened just a couple of weeks ago, with Easter, Passover, school vacations and travel all happening at the same time, right when the mask mandates, in particular for airline travel, were lifted.”
She said that the current increase is noteworthy, but with more and more people using home COVID tests to determine whether or not they’re infected, the actual numbers of cases are probably considerably higher.
Still, Dr. Hills said, “The trends I think, can be very indicative.”
She said that seeing an increase in the COVID cases that are reported is still an accurate representation of the general trend in how the virus is spreading.
“So if we’re seeing an increase in case numbers like we’re seeing now,” Hills continued, “that increase is certainly reflective of an overall increase across the city.”
Across the city, recent numbers, from May 6, show 3,176 cases, compared to April 6, when the city saw a much lower number of cases, 1,964.
Dr. Waleed Javaid is an epidemiologist who is also an infection control director at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He acknowledged the upward trend.
“Things are getting busy,” he said. “A lot of people are getting infected. People who have not had the infection for over two years are starting to get infected.”
While that is the case, Dr. Javaid said, the increases in infection aren’t as high as they were five months ago, during the winter spike, or as high as they were early in the pandemic.
He said that a lot of the rising trend is impacting people at home and at their workplaces. However, as far as his hospital is concerned.
“It’s not choking the system,” he said.
Still, Javaid added, the higher trend is still concerning, and it’s one that requires everyone to take action to protect themselves, as well as others.
“What I tell my friends and family, and what I do myself, when I’m traveling or commuting, even if it’s not required in some areas, I will continue to wear my mask. I will continue to do that, until I see a number that trends downwards.”