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Viruses fight in the early hotspots of New York, New York

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ALBANIA, NEW YORK (AP) – A year after becoming the global epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, New York and New Ersey are once again on the list of US states with the highest rates of infection.

Even as the vaccination campaign grew, the number of new infections in New Jersey dropped by 37% in just over a month to about 23,600 every seven days. About 50,000 people a week in New York test positive for the virus, a number that has not changed much since mid-February.

The two countries now rank No. 1 և 2 in the number of new infections per capita. New Jersey reports 647 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. The average in New York is 548.

No country feels like they did last spring when hospitals and morgues were filling up. And like the rest of the country, both are in a much better position than January, at the height of the winter epidemic.

But in recent weeks, the lack of improvement or even regression has raised concerns that states are opening up too fast, people are leaving their guard too much, and potentially more contagious versions of the virus are circulating more widely.

“When we see an increase or decrease in cases, then the policy needs to be reconsidered,” said Roy Gulik, Head of Infectious Diseases at Weil Cornell Medical College յու New York-Presbyterian Hospital / Weil Cornell Medical Center.

In February, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed the state’s largest stadiums to host sports events and concerts again, despite only 10% of normal capacity. New York City cinemas have been allowed to reopen. Restaurants can now operate at 50% capacity in New York City և 75% capacity elsewhere in the state. Closed fitness classes have also resumed.

The reopening was led by Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, whose state-owned restaurants have also been allowed to operate at half capacity, and hairdressers, salons and other personal care businesses have resumed sales.

It happened in other parts of the country as well.

Utah, Alabama, Arkansas: Indiana will end the mask mandate in early April, joining the states of Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Montana and Iowa, which have eliminated facelift requirements in recent weeks. Some states allow businesses to operate at full capacity.

However, in Illinois, the state director of public health on Friday stressed the need to maintain social distance by increasing the number of cases, wearing masks in the background of hospitalizations. The total number of confirmed one-day probable illnesses exceeded 3,000 on Friday for the first time in seven weeks, and hospitalizations increased by 15% in the last five days.

In recent days, Murphy has said that due to the revival of New Jersey, he is pausing to further weaken the rules.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in New York since mid-March has reached about 4,600. New Jersey hospitals report about 2,200 people infected with the virus, up from about 300 in the past few weeks.

“They’re spreading faster, our vaccine levels are improving every week, but they’re definitely not where we want them to be,” said Bruce Farber, Northwell Health’s infectious disease և public health և epidemiologist.

Experts point to several potential factors, including the spread of potentially more contagious variants in densely populated areas.

“Is there anything else that is happening in this part of the country compared to some other parts of the country?” asked Dr. Ed Lifshitz, medical director of the New Jersey Department of Infectious Diseases at the State Department of Health. “And the answer is probably yes.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has questioned whether Cuomo is easing restrictions “for political reasons”, despite concerns. The governor is facing charges of sexual harassment in connection with his resignation.

But then de Blasio himself announced that as of May, the city’s more than 80,000 employees would no longer work from home.

New York Public Attorney uma Oman Williams urged New York to suspend reopening plans.

“I urge the governor to stay true to science, to trust the experts, to stop the planned reopening now before they take effect, to get more infected,” Williams said.

Experts worry that the public is getting the message that the increase in vaccines means that the state is clear, even though only part of the public has completed its full course. Vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, but scientists are still studying how well they prevent the virus from spreading.

“It is wrong to allow larger groups to come together and tell the public that we have gone through the worst we can get back to normal,” Farber said.

Sean Clouston, a professor of neuroepidemiology at Stony Brook University, said the increase in new cases was concentrated in young people who could not be vaccinated in New York unless they had special health conditions or a specific job. He said their infection rates could drop when they are eligible, too.

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Catalini reported from Trenton, New Jersey.

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