NEW YORK — After weeks of declining COVID-19 data in New York, the Empire State is seeing an uptick in positivity rate.
The seven-day statwide positivity rate on Friday was 0.79% — up from 0.63% a week ago. On June 15, when the state hit its 70% vaccination rate and dropped most of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, the seven-day positivity rate was 0.40%.
The slight uptick, which still pales in comparison to where the state was in spring and summer of 2020, came amid growing concerns over the more transmissible delta variant among unvaccinated populations in the state and across the country.
The state Department of Health said a higher percentage of cases were linked to more contagious variants and urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
The delta variant, first identified in India, became the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States this week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said areas with low vaccination rates could start to see surges in cases.
“So I’m concerned as [the delta] variant becomes more dominant. Those areas, those select areas of the country that have a very low level of vaccination, like 30% or so, you’re going to start seeing many surges that are localized to certain regions. And as I said, you don’t want to see two separate Americas, one that’s vaccinated and protected, and yet another that’s un-vaccinated and very much at risk,” he said Friday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Fauci also pointed out this week that those who are fully vaccinated “have a very high degree of protection” and recent studies suggest the COVID vaccines protect most people from becoming seriously ill from variants.
In New York, the increasing positivity rate was partly driven by New York City and Long Island, each at 0.85% — nearly double the seven-day positivity rate of the Capital Region, according to state Health Department data.
Staten Island in particular had a seven-day positivity rate of 1.41% on Friday. Staten Island also has one of the lower vaccination rates of the five boroughs at 49%, according to city Department of Health data.
Even with an uptick in the positivity rate, statewide hospitalizations have hovered around 350 patients for at least a week and have stayed below 400 since June 26, according to state Health Department data.
Elsewhere around the country, areas with far lower vaccination rates were seeing larger spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations.
While New York City held a ticker-tape parade this week celebrating its front-line essential workers who helped keep the city going during the worst of the pandemic, hospitals in parts of Missouri struggled to beat back a surge of cases blamed on the fast-spreading delta variant and deep resistance to getting vaccinated.
The split-screen images could be a glimpse of what public health experts say may lie ahead for the U.S. even as the economy opens up again and life gets back to something close to normal: outbreaks in corners of the country with low vaccination rates.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.