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.
The figures come even as New York continues to relax coronavirus restrictions.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has invited the state’s largest stadiums to host sporting events and concerts again at limited capacities — while allowing indoor fitness classes to resume again.
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.
“It’s in the national interest to blunt this wave. That means sending more supply to the variant hot spots,” he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, New York City’s Public Advocate Jumaane Williams urged Cuomo to pull the breaks 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, the medical director of New Jersey’s communicable disease service within the state Health Department. “And the answer is probably yes.”
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