New York, New Jersey now lead the country in COVID-19 infections

New York and New Jersey now have the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the country.

The Empire State has averaged 548 cases for every 100,000 residents over the past 14 days — only surpassed by the Garden State with 647 cases.

Despite vaccination efforts, New York has not seen a dramatic reduction in infections. Daily cases have averaged about 50,000 people per week since mid-February.

And across the Hudson River in New Jersey, the number of new infections has climbed by 37 percent in a little more than a month, to about 23,600 every seven days.

A person experiencing homelessness receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
A person experiencing homelessness receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.Bloomberg via Getty Images

In New York, Orange and Rockland counties are seeing the highest positivity rates — 6.7 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, state Department of Health data shows. Just below them is Bronx County, which currently has a 5.5 percent positivity rate, and Suffolk County, which has a 5.4 percent positivity rate. 

Statewide, the positivity rate was 4.1 percent on Saturday.  

The highest number of new infections recorded in New York on Saturday was in Queens and Brooklyn, which saw 1,661 and 1,547 new cases, respectively. Over the last week, cases have been on the rise in both of those counties, though the numbers are still lower than in January during the post-holiday surge. 

The alarming trend comes even as New York continues to relax coronavirus restrictions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recently invited the state’s largest stadiums to host sporting events and concerts again at limited capacities — while allowing indoor fitness classes to resume in the Big Apple, over the objections of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Vaccination stations at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center Covid-19 vaccination site in Edison, New Jersey
While vaccination rates are improving each week, not much is known about whether people who have received the shot can transmit the virus.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

City Council health committee chairman Mark Levine on Sunday called for an extra supply of vaccines to be sent to states being hit hard by variants of the virus, which local officials have blamed for the stubborn infection rates.

“It’s in the national interest to blunt this wave. That means sending more supply to the variant hot spots,” he wrote on Twitter.

A man sits at a check-in desk for the COVID vaccine at a CVS in Princeton, NJ,
“I ask the governor to stick to the science, trust the experts, and pause the planned reopenings now, before they take effect and more are infected,” NYC’s public advocate said.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Meanwhile, New York City’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams urged Cuomo to slam the brakes on reopening plans.

“I ask the governor to stick to the science, trust the experts, and pause the planned reopenings now, before they take effect and more are infected,” Williams said.

While vaccination rates are improving each week, not much is known about whether people who have received the shot can transmit the virus, noted Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases and public health and epidemiology for Northwell Health.

“To allow larger groups to gather, to give the message to the public that we’re over the worst and that we can go back to normal is a mistake,” Farber said.

New variants of the virus showing up in New York and New Jersey could be part of the problem, experts said.

“Is there something different that’s happening in this part of the country compared to some other parts of the country?” asked Dr. Ed Lifshitz, medical director of New Jersey’s communicable disease service within the state Health Department. “And the answer is probably yes.”

The Empire State’s own homegrown variant has been widely circulating in the region — in addition to other concerning strains from across the globe that are understood to be more transmissible.

But relaxing restrictions doesn’t always appear to correlate with rising infection rates — cases in Texas are dropping, even after the state did away with its mask mandate and all social distancing requirements. 

On Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state “hit an all-time recorded low” for its seven-day COVID positivity rate, which was 5.27 percent.

Abbott said the rate has been below 6 percent for five days and below 10 percent for an entire month, while hospitalizations are at their lowest level since the beginning of October. 

Nationwide, however, cases are starting to tick back up again — after they dropped, and then plateaued, in the beginning of March, data shows. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday blamed both variants and states lifting restrictions.

“The variants are playing a part, but it is not completely the variants. What we’re likely seeing is because of things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” 

“Now, several states have done that. I believe it’s premature … because when I’ve said many times to you that when you’re coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, once you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up.”

With Post wires

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