Most of New York State Moves to High Alert for Coronavirus

Case counts in New York City’s school system have moved steadily upward, too. The daily average of new cases reported last week in the public school system was 1,216, raising alarm among some parents.

“The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” Jenna Lyle, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said in a statement. “We will continue to follow the science and adjust if needed, putting the health and safety of our students and staff first.”

Known cases are far lower than they were during the winter, when the state was first struck by the highly contagious variant of the virus, Omicron, and cases in city schools reached around 14,000 in January.

However, Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, noted that testing is much lower than it once was. And widely used home tests are not usually reported. Both factors mean that case numbers could be much higher than the official counts.

About 77 percent of people are fully vaccinated in the state, a figure that rises to 79 percent in New York City. Covid-19 treatments available to certain at-risk populations may also be reducing the number of serious cases and keeping hospitalization rates relatively low.

“We have very good vaccination coverage and, although booster coverage hasn’t been so great, it’s been stable for a while,” said Dr. Nash.

“I think that we don’t yet know if we could absorb a big surge in transmission without seeing a substantial increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” he added.

If hospitalizations and deaths begin to rise quickly, government officials should consider “some reinstatement of measures to protect New Yorkers,” Dr. Nash said.

Emma G. Fitzsimmons contributed reporting.

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