Infection rate continues decline as South African variant arrives in New York

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Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office via Flickr).

As the state declared Sunday that the infection rate was below 3% for the first time since Nov. 23, New Yorkers may have to take caution to the presence of more aggressive forms of COVID-19.

The Cuomo administration alerted the public to detection of the first case of the South African variant of COVID-19 known to be more severe as well as resilient against the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.

“We continue to see a reduction in positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state, which is good news, and this progress is allowing us to reopen the valve on our economy even further,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “But with the discovery of a case of the South African variant in the state, it’s more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distanced. We are in a race right now — between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate — and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined.”

The case in a Nassau County resident, found through sampling processed by Opentrons Labworks Inc’s Pandemic Response Lab, is actually the second case found in New York after a Connecticut resident was transported to a New York City hospital before the variant he was carrying had been confirmed.

Cuomo commented on Feb. 15 that this case presented less of threat to the general public than a case found in the proverbial wild due its presence in a controlled hospital setting. But the variant itself is a concern to health officials who perceive it to be more severe.

On Feb. 8, South Africa had to cease use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after it appeared give minimal protection, a disappointment for suffering developing countries due to the elixir costing only about $3.

For the entire state, the infection rate stands at about 2.99% and in New York City hospitals have about 31% capacity available while 21% is available in intensive care beds.

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