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NEW YORK — Months ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New Yorkers could expect a return to “life as normal” once 70% of adults had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine; the state reached that benchmark in June and, though New York’s since surpassed that level, life has not returned to normal.

The good news? New York State and New York City officials now say about 75 percent of adults have received at least one vaccine shot. The bad news? According to immunologist Dr. Purvi Parikh of NYU Langone Heath, the arrival of the delta variant means the 70-percent vaccination rare won’t bring about the end of COVID any time soon.

“The milestone, I think, is still huge and I think that’s the reason why New York is in such better shape compared to other areas of the country like Texas, Arkansas and Florida where their ICUs are filling up,” Dr. Parikh said.

There’s still problems in New York though.

“The variants are outpacing us. The other problem is, it’s New York, where people are coming from all over the country,” Dr. Parikh said. “Even though our rates are great, we have visitors who might be unvaccinated. So that throws another wrench in the whole herd immunity. It’s not isolated.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio is banking on vaccinations, at some point, outpacing the variants.

But the one potential glitch in that strategy is the arrival of new, more powerful variants.

Dr. Gregory Poland – founder of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, says one of those new variants is already becoming a real problem in some areas.

“It’s caused an outbreak in a nursing home in Belgium and killed seven people that were fully vaccinated,” Dr. Poland said. “What’s concerning is, it’s 9 percent of cases that have been seen in Miami.”