NEW YORK (PIX11) – Bronx resident Ania Villalon says she’s worried New York City is heading backward when it comes to COVID-19.
“Not again. Here we go again,” she told PIX11 News on Monday.
The most recent data from the city’s Department of Health shows COVID-19 cases are up in the five boroughs. The seven-day average jumped from 230 cases on July 4 to 566 cases by July 31 – a 125% increase.
“If I’m going somewhere public and I know there’s going to be a lot of people I’m going to wear my mask,” said Villalon.
But she’s in the minority. Masks haven’t been required in most places since the end of the federal public health emergency in May, and most people don’t wear them in public anymore.
“People get complacent and completely forget about everything,” said New York City resident Christopher Jenkins.
Deborah Nelson told PIX11 this is not the news she wants to hear just weeks before her kindergartener heads back to school. He has a medical condition that makes him vulnerable.
“He doesn’t like putting on a face mask and that is my worry too,” Nelson added.
Health officials say the city’s COVID data comes from people who are tested. It does not account for those who may not even know they have COVID or treat their symptoms without visiting a health facility or telling the health department they are positive. Often, COVID is detected when patients are hospitalized for other health issues.
The city’s Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, told PIX11 the fluctuations in case numbers are part of living with COVID.
“The good news is we are not seeing anything in the virus that makes it more transmissible. It’s really waning immunity. It’s going to be an effort going into the fall to say, ‘Hey let’s get that booster,” said Vasan.
Doctors say it is unlikely that a surge will ever reach the catastrophic levels of 2020, but prevention is key.
“If you do what we are supposed to do, I don’t think you need to worry about it. But when you are with sick people, wear your mask. Even though it’s not mandated, just take care of yourself,” said Dr. Soymole Kuruvilla, a registered nurse and PHD.
She has a message for parents, ahead of the start of the school year: “If the children are sick, people do not send them to school.”
The health commissioner said the CDC will be releasing an updated booster shot, which matches the current COVID variants. It should be ready in the late fall to help protect people during the winter months.