With the Delta variant of COVID-19 fueling a recent infection increase, Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear on Wednesday that the city would double down on efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers against the potentially deadly virus.
Until recently, COVID-19 cases had plummeted to record lows in the Big Apple thanks, in part, to the city’s robust vaccination effort. De Blasio said the proof of its success was found in data released on July 14 which showed that the program had potentially spared more than 8,000 lives and kept an estimated quarter-million New Yorkers from becoming ill.
New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has prevented more than 8,300 death, prevented almost 250,000 COVID-19 cases, and 44,000 hospitalizations according to a study compiled by epidemiologists at Yale University.
“Those numbers tell a powerful, powerful story,” said de Blasio. “It’s a tribute to the vaccinators, it’s a tribute to the health care heroes.”
The number of cases has started to rise once again due to the Delta variant and the city is putting its focus on preventing the spread of the variant. The city’s 7-day positivity rate ticked up on July 12 to 1.33%.
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Health, said the increase in numbers is stemming from unvaccinated individuals.
But de Blasio has pointed to low hospitalization rates as proof of the vaccine’s effectiveness. An estimated 90 New Yorkers were hospitalized on July 10 with COVID-19 symptoms, and the hospitalization rate remained at a very low 0.29 per 100,000 residents as of July 12.
“Our study underscores that the swift vaccine rollout in New York City has played a pivotal role in reducing the COVID-19 burden and in curbing surges from more transmissible emerging variants,” added Alison Galvani, the director of the Yale Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis.
Hoping to curb the Delta variant — which is said to be more contagious and potent than the standard COVID-19 virus — the city is now ramping up its vaccination effort in 76 neighborhoods with the lowest vaccination rates.
This will be done by opening more mobile vaccination sites, door-to-door canvassing, delivering in-home service to anyone who asks for it, expanding the referral bonus program to non-profits, and having doctors reach out to their patients.
The mayor also reiterated that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect oneself from the new variants.
“The risk is very high and emphasizes how urgent it is for New Yorkers to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Chokshi.
A particular focus will be taken on Staten Island, which has the highest positivity rate of any borough currently.
“We’ve got a lot more to do,” said de Blasio. “Thousands of new people show up every day to be vaccinated. We have to keep driving that number with new and different approaches.”