For three straight days, New York State has set single-day positive COVID case records, reporting 22,478 new positive cases across the state on Sunday, Dec. 19. Likewise, COVID positivity rates are spiking in Bushwick and across New York City. 

In the neighborhood’s primary ZIP codes, 11237 and 11221, the positivity rate has risen to roughly 823 new cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

Across the city, the current COVID positivity rate is reminiscent of previous peaks, higher than what it was in both spring 2020 and winter 2021. 

And although COVID testing lines and event cancellations across Bushwick may remind you of the height of the pandemic, the good news is that hospitalization and death rates are staying comparatively low. As of Friday, Dec. 17, the recent sharp rise in cases had only amounted to 28 hospitalizations and three deaths in Brooklyn over a seven day period.

Seven-day case averages in Brooklyn. Source:
Seven-day hospitalization averages in Brooklyn. Source:
Seven-day death averages in Brooklyn. Source:

In New York City, where more than 90 percent of adults over the age of 18 and roughly 80 percent of those over five years old are vaccinated against COVID, the rise in positive diagnoses indicates a surge in breakthrough cases. Health officials have made it clear that COVID vaccines do not entirely prevent infection, but they do reduce chances of becoming severely ill or dying because of the virus. With a high case count and comparatively low hospitalizations and deaths, the current numbers support this. 

Still, as cases continue to rise, public officials and doctors across the city continue to push the importance of vaccination, testing and masking up. 

“Omicron is a real challenge. It is going to be a very challenging few weeks,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday morning. “But … we are talking about a matter of weeks. We are going to see a really fast upsurge in cases. We are going to see a lot of New Yorkers affected by omicron. So far … the cases are more mild than what we’ve experienced previously.” 

“We do know that omicron moves very fast – it is very transmissible,” de Blasio added. “It moves fast. We have to move faster. That’s why we are focusing even more on vaccination. We do know that vaccination helps address omicron. Bottom line – fast spreading variant. We are going to see a surge in cases for a few weeks. Then we think we are going to see it start to trail off. The answer is vaccination.” 

Last week, de Blasio released details on the pending private sector vaccine mandate, which is set to go into effect starting Dec. 27. The mayor has also promised more testing sites, which are supposed to be set up throughout the city this week.

Currently, the city has an interactive tool that allows users to put in their ZIP codes and find the active testing sites nearest them. Those living in Bushwick can also check out Bushwick Daily’s guide, which includes information on where to get a COVID test, what tests are available, how much they cost, if you need an appointment and more.

Those looking to get a COVID vaccine can locate the best place to do so here.

Editor’s note: The current Bushwick COVID numbers, including details on area code 11221, were updated at 9:03 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21.

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