Officials warn of COVID variants

Pharmacy student Norbek Gharibian prepares a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on May 7, 2021, in Los Angeles, Calif., at a vaccination clinic setup by Los Angeles Football Club, partnering with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and USC Pharmacy, where those vaccinated were due to receive a 20% discount on merchandise at the LAFC team store. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

The majority of New Yorkers believe the worst days of the COVID-19 outbreak are over as health officials warn that people who have not received a coronavirus vaccine remain the highest risk at contracting stronger mutations of the upper respiratory disease.

About 68% of New York residents feel the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over, according to a Siena poll released Tuesday, while 17% believe the worst is yet to come.

Fourteen percent of the 809 New Yorkers surveyed said they don’t plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Two percent of respondents refused to answer.

Seventy-three percent replied they had been vaccinated, and 10% answered they plan to get the life-saving shot, according to the poll.

“New York state has made tremendous progress in vaccinating New Yorkers — with over 21.6 million vaccines administered — and we continue to make every effort to fight COVID-19 statewide by getting shots in arms,” according to the state Health Department on Tuesday in response to queries about the poll. “Those who are unvaccinated have the greatest risk of being vulnerable to variants and becoming seriously ill, which is why the New York State Department of Health urges all eligible New Yorkers to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.”

More than 70.5% of residents ages 18 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of press time Tuesday, according to the governor’s office. About 65.2% people have completed their vaccine series, or two weeks has lapsed since their final injection.

Many countries have started to administer coronavirus vaccines to their citizens as COVID-19 cases top 132 million worldwide.

Many doctors believe some kind of boosters will eventually be needed to maintain immunity, especially if the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and mutate in various parts of the world.

The U.S. is currently experiencing a new surge of cases driven by the virulent delta variant of coronavirus, which originated in India.

Over the past month, the weekly average caseload has doubled and hospitalizations are rapidly increasing in some pockets of the Midwest and South where vaccination rates are low.

State health personnel have confirmed 238 cases of the delta variant in New York based on reported genomic sequences, according to the Health Department on Tuesday.

“It’s normal for a virus to mutate, and the effectiveness of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines remains strong even against newer strains, including against variants of concern such as the delta variant,” a Health Department representative said. “As is the trend nationally, it appears to be increasing in the percentage of variants identified in New York but is still far behind other variants.”

To date, the department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory in Albany has discovered the delta cases in sequencing about 12,934 virus samples with most specimens selected at random from throughout the state.

The state’s COVID-19 infection rate has sharply declined since the virus resurgence over the winter, but increased slightly Tuesday to 1.28%. The state’s positivity rate is 0.93% over a seven-day average.

New COVID cases increased in the Capital Region to 0.84% on Monday, up from 0.73% on Sunday and 0.53% at the start of the weekend.

Positivity in the Finger Lakes held at 0.79%.

The north country’s infection rate remained flat Tuesday at about 0.53%.

The state reported 349 people hospitalized due to the illness Tuesday.

“Thanks to the hard work of our health care workers and the discipline New Yorkers have shown thus far, we continue to feel confident about where we are and what the road ahead looks like,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “To stay this course, the best thing we can all do is get vaccinated. If you still need to get your shot, please do so as quickly as possible to protect yourself and everyone around you.”

Six New Yorkers died from COVID complications Monday. At least 53,737 New Yorkers have died from the novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online virus tracker.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

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