For the first time since launching the metrics this spring, New York City has surpassed all three infection and hospitalization thresholds meant to monitor the spread of COVID-19.
Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed the troubling milestone during a press conference on Friday, while previewing the launch of a new command center that will soon help distribute a COVID vaccine to New Yorkers.
Suggesting a new gravity of the crisis, de Blasio acknowledged what many experts have already said.
"This is now clearly a second wave in New York City," the mayor said. "There are some communities that the numbers are even higher — that is in some cases directly related to use of masks or unwillingness to use masks. But overwhelming, we’ve got a citywide problem."
Hospitalizations reached 205 on Friday, exceeding the 200 mark for the first time in months. The 7-day average of cases is 2,559 and the rolling positivity average is 5.35% — well above the existing thresholds.
"This is a sign of how deep this crisis is right now," the mayor said.
De Blasio said he'd spoken to the governor on Friday morning, but did not say whether the latest indicators would bring about any additional public health measures.
On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered indoor dining closed in New York City beginning on Monday. Take out and delivery service could continue as could outdoor dining. Cuomo had warned earlier this week that indoor dining would likely be shut down in the city should hospitalizations continue to increase.
Across the state, there are currently more than 5,000 people hospitalized with COVID.
New York City hospitals have less than 20% of their beds available, according to state data.
The growing number of hospitalized New Yorkers come as the toll of the virus intensifies across the country. There were 107,000 Americans hospitalized with the virus on Thursday, an all-time high, according to the COVID tracking project. The country also surpassed 3,000 daily deaths this week — with health officials warning that the worst is yet to come.
Local officials are also gearing up for the arrival of a vaccine as early as Monday. On Friday, de Blasio said the city would launch a Vaccine Command Center, focused on ensuring equitable distribution and combatting mistrust in communities.
The earliest doses of the vaccine will be made available to vulnerable frontline health care workers, along with nursing home staff and residents. Further details about the vaccine roll-out would be made available in the coming days, he said.
"We’ve been holding the line up to now but this is a sign that hospitalization is becoming a bigger challenge," de Blasio said. "We need to hold the line for the vaccine to do its work."