NYC COVID hospitalizations likely to grow as delta variant rapidly spreads, health commissioner warns

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — The delta variant is fueling new COVID-19 cases in New York City, and health officials are urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi told the PIX11 Morning News’ Betty Nguyen on Tuesday he’s very concerned about the delta variant.

“And my concern is primarily for people who remain unvaccinated. The reason is that we know this virus is wiley; it’s proven itself a formidable foe and it will find the cracks in our armor,” he said. “Right now, the greatest cracks in our armor are the places and the people who remain unvaccinated.”

Chokshi said almost all New Yorkers who have experienced severe illness — requiring oxygen, hospitalization, and requiring a breathing tube — in the last two months were not fully vaccinated when they contracted COVID.

“And that means it’s avoidable; it’s preventable,” he added. “This is suffering that we can do something about.”

About half of all cases in New York City right now are sick with the delta variant, and Chokshi said a significant proportion of hospitalizations are very likely due to that highly transmissible strain.

“And we expect that proportion to grow in the coming weeks based on what we’re seeing about the trajectory of the delta variant around the world,” he added.

As concerns grow about the delta variant and other emerging strains, questions have been raised about the necessity of a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Pfizer last week said it would seek authorization for a booster shot, however, CDC and FDA officials said they did not view a third dose as necessary “at this time.”

Chokshi said the city is tracking the science and data closely, and for now the science does not indicate that people need a booster shot “at this moment.”

“But there are studies that are actively ongoing, which indicate that a booster may be warranted in the future and I can tell you that the city is planning and preparing for that,” he said.

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