New York's weekly tally of COVID-19 cases increased about 11% last week, as experts warned of a plateau in coronavirus-related suffering along the nation's uncertain odyssey to a "new normal" of living with the infectious disease.
New York reported 48,982 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Sunday, up from 44,235 new cases the prior week. The worst infection rates hit parts of New York City and Long Island, with much of upstate New York seeing comparatively lower numbers of cases.
New York ranked 17th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Nationally, COVID-19 cases decreased about 14% from the week before, with 781,487 cases reported. Across the country, 13 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.
In New York, 221 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday, up from 173 deaths the prior week.
“We’re sitting on this horrible plateau,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist with Pro Health Care in New York and a clinical instructor of medicine at Columbia University. “It’s been this way for the past couple of months, and we’re getting used to it.”
In July, more than 12,500 Americans died of COVID-19, according to the USA TODAY analysis.
Coronavirus deaths are similar to the number of influenza deaths normally reported during peak season, said David Dowdy, epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A bad flu season in the USA could see more than 50,000 deaths.
That doesn’t mean COVID-19 mortality has reached that of flu, he said, as peak flu season lasts only about three months. Spread over the course of the year, Dowdy said, there would be about four times as many COVID-19 deaths than flu deaths.
COVID-19 is “like having to live in flu season year round, and that’s not what we do with the flu,” he said. “If we had to do that with the flu, we’d be instituting more measures than what we do.”
Despite the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in New York, a slight decline last week in hospitalizations offered some reprieve for the health system. Meanwhile, authorities braced for a potential resurgence in cases this fall and winter, as people spend more time indoors where the virus spreads more easily.
Further, the virus currently posed a comparatively higher threat in the New York City area, including parts of the Hudson Valley. A total of 10 counties, including those in New York City, Long Island as well as Westchester, Rockland and Putnam, remained in the high risk category due to COVID-19 infection rates and strain on local hospitals, according to federal guidelines.
State and federal health officials urged people to wear masks indoors in public spaces in all counties within the high-risk category, regardless of vaccination status, to help curb the virus' spread.
Meanwhile, authorities continued to struggle to improve COVID-19 vaccination and booster rates nationally, despite the lingering threat of serious illness and death posing a disproportionately higher risk among the unvaccinated and un-boosted population.
In New York, for example, only about 53,100 children ages six months through 4 years have received an initial dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That reflects about 5% of the age group, which was approved for shots in June. That rate lagged behind the pace of vaccination in older children and adults.
How COVID is spreading in NY
In the latest week, Westchester County saw its COVID-19 cases fall about 7%, reporting 2,062 cases and six deaths.
Rockland County's cases remained flat, reporting 746 cases and three deaths.
Putnam County's cases declined about 17%, reporting 171 cases and one death in the latest week.
Orange County's cases declined about 7%. reporting 1,059 cases and three deaths.
Dutchess County's cases fell about 16%, reporting 493 cases and three deaths.
Upstate, Monroe County's cases remained flat, reporting 713 cases and seven deaths.
Broome County's cases dropped 10%, reporting 212 cases and one death.
Oneida County's cases leaped 33%, reporting 300 cases and two deaths.â€‹
Within New York, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in:
Staten Island with 423 cases per 100,000 per week.
Queens County with 413.
Bronx County with 398.
The Centers for Disease Control says high levels of community transmission begin at 100 cases per 100,000 per week.
Adding the most new cases overall were:
Queens County, with 9,315 cases.
Kings County, with 8,938 cases.
Bronx County, with 5,647.
Weekly case counts rose in 31 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Queens, Kings and Bronx counties.
Across New York, cases fell in 30 counties, with the best declines in:
Nassau County, with 3,294 cases from 4,037 a week earlier.
Suffolk County, with 3,307 cases from 3,957.
Manhattan, with 4,370 cases from 4,867. â€‹
A total of 5,866,926 people in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 70,490 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 92,112,922 people have tested positive and 1,033,556 people have died.
New York's COVID-19 hospital admissions falling
USA TODAY analyzed federal hospital data as of Sunday, Aug. 7. Likely COVID patients admitted in the state:
Last week: 3,862
The week before that: 4,095
Four weeks ago: 3,726
Likely COVID patients admitted in the nation:
Last week: 72,801
The week before that: 72,098
Four weeks ago: 67,603
Hospitals in 24 states reported more COVID-19 patients than a week earlier, while hospitals in 24 states had more COVID-19 patients in intensive-care beds. Hospitals in 33 states admitted more COVID-19 patients in the latest week than a week prior, the USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Health and Human Services data shows.
Adrianna Rodriguez of USA TODAY contributed to this report.
The USA TODAY Network is publishing localized versions of this story on its news sites across the country, generated with data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control. If you have questions about the data or the story, contact Mike Stucka at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on New York State Team: NY COVID cases, deaths rise. Is this the 'new normal?'