DeBlasio sought to downplay any immediate risks of a major outbreak in New York City of the Delta variant, a more transmissible strain of Covid-19 that has been responsible for a surge in new infections in countries such as the UK, Australia and India, where it was first identified.
The mayor said city officials were watching the new strain “very carefully”, but the “bottom line is that right now, we’re winning the case against the Delta variant” because of the take-up of vaccines across the city.
“We will always be ready if we see things start to turn,” he said. The sort of shift that might trigger new restrictions could “take weeks and weeks”, he said, and that officials would “make adjustments when we see real consistent evidence”.
New York City’s coronavirus indicators were “heading in the right direction”, DeBlasio said. The state, as a whole, conducted more tests than any other place in the US over the past week but also had among the lowest positivity rates in the country.
Asked by reporters whether the spread of the Delta variant in New York City could trigger new lockdowns, DeBlasio said: “We do not see that likelihood at the moment.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, New York City reported about 2.2 new cases per 100,000 people a day in the week ended June 28, compared to the national average of about 3.1.
In the four weeks ended June 5, 3.1 per cent of genomically sequenced cases in New York state were the Delta variant. Anthony Fauci, a senior adviser on the White House’s coronavirus task force, said last week the Delta strain made up about 20 per cent of new cases in the fortnight ended June 19.
DeBlasio and his public health officials reiterated that getting vaccinated remained the city’s best protection against the ill effects of more transmissible Covid-19 strains.