Fully Vaccinated Omicron Infection Risk Declines in New York for First Time in


What to Know

  • New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20%, another recent low; daily deaths hit a new high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout, reflecting the lagging factor
  • NY COVID cases are still high, but breakthrough infection risk appears to be decreasing — and so does the infection risk for the unvaccinated
  • Unvaccinated NYers are still nearly 8x as likely as fully vaccinated ones to be infected and almost 13x as likely to be hospitalized — but the risk is dropping for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, new data shows

Breakthrough COVID infections in New York have declined for the first time since omicron’s emergence while rolling positivity rates have dipped, according to new state data released Thursday, fueling hope the variant’s peak may have passed.

Gov. Kathy Hochul reported a daily death toll of 195 — a 17% increase over the prior recent high and the highest single-day total in a year. Tragically, the increasing number of lives lost may also reflect an easing of the omicron wave. First, there’s the surge in cases, then the surge in hospitalizations.

Some of those patients die. This recent daily high is mercifully lower than the 800 New Yorkers who were dying a day early in the pandemic and reflects the power of vaccination along with other efforts to curb viral spread but is a critical reminder.

As Hochul said in a statement on the latest numbers, “Even as the rate of new infections continues to move in a promising direction, too many New Yorkers are getting sick, being hospitalized or tragically losing their lives — we must remain vigilant in our fight against the virus. We can’t afford to reverse the progress.”

That progress is becoming more evident across more metrics by the day. After weeks of statewide hospitalizations mostly rising daily, sometimes markedly, New York reported a reduction of 219 patients. Fewer than 12,500 patients are hospitalized for COVID statewide — a high not seen since April 2020 until recently.

Omicron has probably reached its peak in the northeast United States, says NBC medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar. Cases are rising less quickly than before and could hopefully come down quickly too. But “we have to watch and wait and see what happens,” Azar says.

Some of that may be attributed to the increased lives lost as compared with the recent days, but nearly 2,000 patients were discharged, almost 50 more than the number newly admitted, according to the state.

Other reasons for optimism: Of nearly 357,000 total tests conducted Wednesday, the highest test volume in the last five days, less than 17% came back positive, another recent first, while the state’s seven-day rolling positivity average fell below 20%. That rolling positivity is still exceedingly high, especially considering the rolling average was just over 3% exactly two months ago, but it hasn’t been as low as Hochul reported Thursday (18.61%) since Dec. 30 and marks sustained decline.

Breakthrough infections, which have increased weekly per 100,000 fully vaccinated New York residents since Oct. 25 but markedly so since the second week of November, when omicron was…



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