COVID deaths in New York state rose 30% last month, hitting their highest number since early 2022, nearly three years after the virus first ravaged the state, shows an analysis of the Post.
There were 915 deaths related to the coronavirus and its variants in the Empire State in December — about 30 per day — compared to 664 deaths in November.
The monthly death toll has reached levels not seen since February 2022, The Post review of state Health Department data found, and comes despite vaccines and antiviral drugs widely available to treat COVID-19.
Public health experts said the rising rate is evidence that COVID can still be considered a pandemic rather than a rear-view mirror nuisance.
The virus has claimed more than 77,000 lives in New York City since the beginning of 2020, according to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Nearly 1.1 million Americans have died from COVID-related illnesses, according to the CDC.
Older adults, especially those with other diseases or unvaccinated, are at greater risk of hospitalization or death.
State data shows that 87 percent of those who have died from COVID are age 60 and older, and most had heart or blood-related disease.
Public fatigue and resistance to annoying recommendations to take precautions, such as masking up, have contributed to the latest spikes in hospitalizations and deaths, according to health advocates. Mask mandates in the city and state were abolished last year.
“People have let their guard down a bit, to be honest,” said Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health. “It seems that in the current situation we are seeing a surge of new variants and people are less careful.”
El-Mohandes noted that colder weather and the influx of tourists during the holiday season likely had an impact, but argued that “the pandemic isn’t over” and “people shouldn’t be oblivious to the risk.”
Last spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s former chief medical adviser, said the US was “out of the pandemic stage,” though COVID remains highly contagious and neither the World Health Organization nor the CDC has downgraded it. from the pandemic state.
In a statement to The Post, the state Health Department said New Yorkers face a “triple demic” of COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
“COVID-19 continues to be a primary concern for public health officials, claiming lives every day in New York State, across the country and around the world,” said DOH spokesperson Cort Ruddy.
“High levels of flu and RSV have also combined to create what is, essentially, a triple demic this fall and winter. That is why the Department continues to urge all New Yorkers to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones, including up-to-date on vaccines, including the bivalent booster for COVID-19. These vaccines greatly reduce the chance of serious illness or death.”
State data shows that 85% of residents over the age of 18 have received the primary set of COVID vaccinations, yet only about 15% are current with the latest booster set, which includes the Omicron bivalent booster.
The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID has also increased.
There were 2,846 patients hospitalized with COVID as of Nov. 1, including 307 in the intensive care unit. That number jumped to 3,960 hospitalizations and 413 ICU patients by Dec. 30 and 4,157 hospitalized by Jan. 5, according to DOH data.
The death rate for the first week of January 2023 mirrored that of December, with 62 COVID-related deaths reported combined between Wednesday and last Thursday.
Governor Hochul said we’re not out of the woods.
“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and continue to use all tools available to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe and healthy,” he said on Friday.
“Stay up to date on vaccine doses, and get tested before gatherings or travel. If the test comes back positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options.
The Department of Health reported that a new variant of Omicron, XBB.1.5., is now the most dominant strain, accounting for more than 50% of COVID infections statewide. Officials said the new variant is more contagious because it mutates, allowing it to attach to cells and replicate.
“Since it emerged, the COVID-19 virus continues to change,” said state health commissioner Dr. James McDonald. “The new dual-purpose booster has been updated to address these changes, which is why it’s so important that all New Yorkers 6 months and older get the important protection it offers.”
He said the bivalent booster provides significant protection against becoming seriously ill or hospitalized, and those with the vaccination are more than 18 times less likely to die from COVID than those who aren’t vaccinated.
The number of COVID deaths per month in 2022 is: December 915; November 664; October 683; September 486; August 592; July 534; June 464; May 613; April 353; March 400; February 1,652; January 4592.