NEW YORK — New information from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene shows that COVID rates continue to decrease in the five boroughs — in sharp contrast to the national situation, in which infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are at their highest rates since late last winter, when vaccines were not yet widely available.
Still, the overall infection rate is significantly higher in New York City than what’s needed to prevent community spread, and statistics for specific zip codes within the city show that some neighborhoods have dangerously high rates.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, at his daily news conference on Monday, said that the city has to keep its focus in order to continue to reduce COVID transmission.
“What we determined to do,” said the mayor, “was to bring the vaccination effort to the grassroots. And we’ve seen a big impact.”
The impact is borne out in the Dept. of Health’s daily numbers, which show a decrease across the board — in rates of infection, number of cases, and hospitalizations. The number of COVID-related deaths is unchanged.
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist with the Allergy and Asthma Network who also practices at NYU Langone Medical Center, said that the city government, as well as residents of the city, are generally doing the right things to fight the disease.
“We’ve reimplemented indoor masking in most places,” Dr. Parikh said, “and now you can’t even get into any indoor area, whether it be [a] restaurant, theater, what have you, without showing your proof of vaccination.”
Those measures are helping keep New York stable, Dr. Parikh said.
However, there are exceptions in some New York City neighborhoods, according to the city’s statistics compiled by zip code.
They show that in Breezy Point, Queens, the rate is 15.75%. It’s more than 10% in Tottenville, Staten Island, and is nearly 8% in Annadale, also in Staten Island. In Queens, the communities of Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach, as well as Arverne and Broad Channel, have infections in the mid-7% range.
Gravesend, Brooklyn, has a rate of 6.82%.
It’s where businessman and automobile restorer Izzy Rodriguez lives. Yet he said he wanted restrictions that have been proven to reduce COVID lifted.
He also said that he had doubts about the effectiveness of vaccines. However, Mary Burroughs, a fellow Gravesend resident, said that she encourages everyone to get vaccinated.
“A lady asked me months ago” if she should get vaccinated, Burroughs said, adding that she’d advised the woman to get the vaccine.
“She never took it,” said Burroughs.
The unwillingness of a sizable minority to get vaccinated has left Burroughs concerned for her neighborhood, and for the city.
“Eventually, we’re going to have to shut down things again,” she said, adding that that’s what she’s afraid of, as well as “afraid for kids going to school.”
However, said Dr. Parikh, even though there’s cause for concern about people’s neglect to get vaccinated promoting COVID spread, the measures being taken now, if they keep growing, can help lower infections, even in the hardest hit areas.
“The public health measures work,” Dr. Parikh said, adding that the city and its residents need to “continue doing the right thing, but still have caution.”