COVID-19 test positivity rate exceeds 2% in Suffolk for the first time since early May

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With most restrictions lifted and the new delta variant circulating statewide, the number of confirmed COVID infections is increasing.

The percentage rate of positive tests in Suffolk exceeded 2% yesterday for the first time since early May, with 2.2% of the 3,923 people tested in Suffolk showing positive results. The number of positive percentages in the Long Island area was 2.3%. The seven-day moving average in Suffolk was 1.4%. In contrast, the county’s seven-day average was 0.4% when the governor lifted all restrictions on June 15.

According to Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr Gregson Piggot, the delta variant is primarily responsible for the rise in infections in the state, accounting for about 20% of cases statewide. He did not have data on delta variant infections in Suffolk County.

“The last time I looked in June, we were around 3% with the delta variant,” Piggot said. “Now about 20% or so statewide is the delta variant. So it goes up quickly. ”

Piggot said those infected are mostly unvaccinated people, although some vaccinated people can contract the virus but remain asymptomatic.

Statewide, the rate was 1.2% yesterday and 1.3% on a seven-day average. The statewide average COVID hospitalization over the past seven days was around 350 people per day.

According to the CDC, evidence suggests that the delta variant is more transmissible, especially in indoor environments. Vaccines always protect against infection with the delta variant, although they may not be as effective. There is no evidence to suggest that delta variant infections are more serious.

Piggot also said the increased activity over the summer could have been the cause of the small spike in infection rates, but there were no “super spreader” events.

“A lot of people are celebrating as the end of COVID, that we have won the battle, that we don’t have to face this anymore,” Piggot said. “But we find that is not the case. That there is always COVID circulating. That whenever this virus finds a more adaptable, more transmissible mutation, we are susceptible to it. ”

It is more difficult to be infected in an outdoor environment than indoors, Piggot said, because the virus cannot concentrate in one place. When asked about crowded outdoor events, Piggot recommends people avoid large crowds. He also recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks and practice physical distancing.

The county recommends that people get vaccinated. New York State has started closing many mass vaccination sites as the rate of people vaccinated has leveled off in recent weeks. Instead, the state passes vaccinations through primary care providers, whom people who may be reluctant to get vaccinated trust more and can give more personal recommendations.

Vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective against coronavirus infection and hospitalization, with immediate side effects being muscle pain and headaches. There have been a few reports of short-term heart inflammation with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and a rare blood clot with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, although these symptoms are extremely rare.

Rare Guillain Barré syndrome has also been identified as a potential side effect of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine, according to the latest FDA fact sheet. After 100 cases over 13 million vaccine recipients developed severe cases of the disease. There is currently not enough data to prove that the vaccine causes the syndrome, the FDA said. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have not been linked to Guillain Barré syndrome.

“These are very rare side effects, and the overall benefit of the vaccine is huge in that you won’t get sick from COVID and you won’t die from COVID if you are fully immunized. We can pretty much ensure that, ”Piggot said.

According to the state Department of Health, 57.1% of people in Riverhead (ZIP code 11901) and 54.2% of people in Calverton (11933) have at least one dose of the vaccine. The number is below the 70% immunization threshold that state and national health officials use as a benchmark for herd immunity. Riverhead Town’s other zip codes are all believed to have vaccination rates above 99%, according to the state’s health department website.

When resident John McAuliff at last week’s city council meeting asked if the city is doing anything to increase vaccination rates in overdue areas of Riverhead, supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the city was not not responsible for that.

“I understand what you’re saying, but here in Riverhead Town we’re not going to identify neighborhoods and try to get in, that’s not something we do. I believe people can choose to be vaccinated on their own, ”Aguiar said.

“Sure, but that’s not the problem,” McAuliff interrupted. “The problem is why they don’t get vaccinated – and [the town]take some responsibility to fix it. McAuliff has raised this question in previous meetings. The supervisor said it was a matter of personal choice and the role of other levels of government, such as the CDC, state and county, to educate and raise awareness on the issue.

In Riverhead, the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 has dropped significantly and has so far remained low.

“Since April, it’s been a steady, steady, steady drop down to zero to two patients,” said Peconic Bay Medical Center executive director Amy Loeb.

PBMC encourages vaccination, Loeb said. PBMC doctors talk about the importance of vaccinations and offer them to their patients. The hospital also offers vaccines every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at its West Second Street campus in Riverhead.

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