(NEW YORK) — COVID-19 cases in New York City have plateaued, signaling that the latest surge is at least slowing, if not over.
An ABC News analysis of city data shows 4,204 confirmed and probable cases were recorded on May 24 — the latest date for which data is available — with a seven-day rolling average of 3,312.
This is the lowest average recorded in the last two weeks.
Other key metrics also indicate the latest wave may be subsiding.
The percent positivity rate — the percentage of tests that come back positive — is currently at 8.64%, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This is a drop from the average of 10.95% over the last 28 days.
Additionally, the seven-day average of hospitalizations has dropped 15.4% from 84 to 71.
“In all likelihood, we’re on the other side of this particular surge, but at the same time it’s not dropping dramatically because of…behavior,” said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor. “We essentially have two opposing forces, one where we have a lot of immunity in the population from vaccination and infection.”
He continued, “On the other hand, people are starting to enjoy congregating and going to indoor concerts, festivals, sporting events. These will create opportunities for the virus to spread.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the unvaccinated population has made up the largest share of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city.
As of May 14, unvaccinated New York City residents were recording 1,826.25 cases per 100,000 people, data from the health department shows.
By comparison, those who are vaccinated but not boosted were recording 183.02 cases per 100,000 and those who are boosted were recording 310.69 cases per 100,000.
In addition, the unvaccinated were hospitalized with COVID-19 at a rate of 188.55 per 100,000 compared to 5.65 per 100,000 for those vaccinated but not yet boosted and 4.96 per 100,000 for those boosted.
“Of course, we know that there’s the probability of breakthrough infections with vaccination, but the outcomes of those breakthroughs are drastically different,” Brownstein said. “As we look at the severe outcomes, the hospitalizations and the deaths as a result of infection, those who are unvaccinated bear a far greater burden of that risk.”
He added, “Despite us being quite far into the vaccination campaign, the urgency to get people vaccinated and boosted is still there and will continue to be there, especially as we see surges in the coming months.”
Even as New York City and the Northeast appear to be plateauing, cases are rising in other parts of the country.
Hawaii is currently leading the U.S in cumulative cases per 100,000 over the last seven days at 623 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, over the last two weeks, the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 infections has increased 78.7% in California and 33.2% in Washington state, CDC data shows.
“We’ve seen a pattern emerge where the Northeast has often been a leading indicator of surges that will take place in other parts of the country,” Brownstein said. “Surges are not uniform across the country. Surges happen at the local level and they’re not necessarily happening.at the exact same time.”
He continued, “What we experience in one part of the country, another part may experience weeks or months later.”
Brownstein also said testing totals could be undercounted because of the number of people who are testing at home and not reporting positive results to health authorities.
“It’s possible we could hit a surge and be well in the midst of it before we know it’s happening,” he said.
He encouraged people to exercise caution and, if case counts rise in their areas, to follow mitigation measures that reduce the risk of spread, such as wearing masks.
“We’re in a much better place and we have wide availability of therapeutics now, so we have better ways of managing this pandemic, but clearly people can still play a role in helping reduce any surges in communities in the coming months,” Brownstein said.
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