“There are many pieces of the puzzle that all seem to be encouraging at this point in time,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.
A dip in vaccinations
Last summer, in the months following the first wave, the daily case count got to below 300 on average. Dr. Chokshi said that he anticipated case counts dropping below 550 a day — a threshold the city set as a goal last year — by July.
To get there however, public health officials say they must raise vaccination rates across the city. Pockets with low vaccination rates, they say, could enable localized outbreaks, similar to those that the city saw in 2019 with measles. For that reason, the slow, person-by-person efforts to get people vaccinated must take center stage.
In early April, it was not uncommon for 100,000 vaccine doses to be administered a day in New York City. But the pace of vaccinations has begun to slow over the last two weeks. Distrust of the vaccines is a significant factor. On Monday, 45,000 vaccine doses were administered.
Tomas Ramos, the founder of the Bronx Rising Initiative, which has been organizing pop-up vaccine clinics in low-income areas of the Bronx, said that skepticism about the safety of vaccines, already a hurdle, rose considerably after the federal pause for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13, with people canceling appointments even for other brands of shots.
In the days following the pause, as a result of six serious cases of blood clotting nationally, only 80 of about 250 people scheduled to receive a dose of the Moderna vaccine at his clinic showed up. “We are very microfocused on this population that doesn’t trust the government and doesn’t trust the vaccine,” he said. “So this is hurting us a lot.”
In the Bronx, fewer than a quarter of residents between the ages of 18 and 34 have received at least one dose. In Manhattan, roughly half of that age group has had at least one shot.