COVID deaths in New York state rose 30% last month — to the highest tally since the start of 2022 — nearly three years after the virus tore through the state for the first time, according to an analysis by Post.
There were 915 deaths related to the coronavirus and its variants in the Empire State in December – about 30 a day – compared to 664 deaths in November.
The monthly death toll has reached levels not seen since February 2022, The Post’s review of state health department data found – and comes despite vaccines and antiviral drugs widely available to treat COVID -19.
Public health experts have said the rising rate is proof 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 since the start of 2020, according to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Nearly 1.1 million Americans have died of COVID-related illness, according to the CDC.
Older people – especially those with other illnesses or who are unvaccinated – are most at risk of hospitalization or death.
State data shows that 87% of those who died from COVID are 60 and older, and the majority had heart or blood-related conditions.
Health advocates say public fatigue and resistance to nagging recommendations to take precautions — like masking — have contributed to the latest spikes in hospitalizations and deaths. Mask mandates in the city and state were eliminated 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 an increase in new variants and people are paying less attention.”
El-Mohandes noted that the colder weather and the influx of tourists during the holiday season likely had an impact – but argued that “the pandemic is not over” and that “people shouldn’t be unaware of the risk.
Last spring, Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief medical adviser to President Biden, said the United States was “out of the pandemic phase” – although COVID remains highly contagious and neither the World Health Organization nor the CDC have downgraded it from pandemic status.
In a statement to the Post, the state health department said New Yorkers are facing a “triple demic” of COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
“COVID-19 continues to be a major concern for public health officials, claiming lives every day in New York State, across the country and around the world,” the DOH spokesperson said. , Cort Ruddy.
“Elevated levels of influenza 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 staying up to date on vaccines, including the bivalent booster for COVID-19. These vaccines significantly reduce the risk of serious illness or death.”
State data shows that 85% of residents over the age of 18 have received their first round of COVID vaccinations, but only about 15% are up to date with the latest round of boosters, 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 November 1, including 307 in the intensive care unit. That number rose to 3,960 hospitalizations and 413 intensive care patients as of Dec. 30 — and 4,157 hospitalized as of Jan. 5, according to DOH data.
The death rate for the first week of January 2023 mirrored December, with 62 reported COVID-related deaths combined since last Wednesday and Thursday.
Governor Hochul said we’re not off the hook.
“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and continue to use all available tools to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities,” she said Friday.
“Keep up to date on vaccine doses and test before gatherings or travel. If you test 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 its appearance, the COVID-19 virus has continued to change,” said the acting health commissioner, Dr James McDonald. “The new bivalent booster has been updated to address these changes, which is why it’s so important that all New Yorkers 6 months and older benefit from the important protection it provides.”
He said the bivalent booster provides significant protection against getting very sick or being hospitalized, and vaccinated people 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 1652; January 4,592.