What The New York Times isn’t telling you about a ‘sixth’ COVID wave

The New York Times is perplexed — and seemingly annoyed — that despite a “sixth wave” of COVID-19 in New York City, “few seem inclined to get themselves into high-alert mode again.” Now, why might that be?

The obvious explanation is that New Yorkers can see what’s going on: For all the many COVID cases around (including among what seem to be more than half of my friends and colleagues), nobody who is vaccinated is truly sick. Thanks to vaccines, weakened viral strains and acquired immunity from earlier infections, the grim reaper of  2020 has been reduced to a nuisance no more debilitating than a short-lived cold.

The evidence isn’t just anecdotal; the proof actually hides in plain sight in the Times’ own story, although its meaning is lost on the writers and editors.

The story crucially failed to differentiate between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated — an oceanic-scale gulf in both infections and hospitalizations that is indispensable to understanding why so many New Yorkers feel confident about getting on with their lives. The people the Times interviewed who said their COVID anxiety had waned were almost surely vaxxed, but the reporters didn’t say.

This matters in the extreme. The Department of Health reports that new daily cases doubled from a seven-day average of just over 2,000 in April to nearly 4,000 in July. But hospitalizations for vaxxed and boosted New Yorkers (as of June 18, the last date fully tabulated) was running at the rate of a mere 4.83 for every 100,000 residents — compared with 7,202 among 100,000 for the unvaxxed.

And the Times tells us, “Experts estimate the true number of infections is as much as ten times higher” than official figures of 3,700 daily new city cases, thanks to people testing at home rather than with PCR tests that are recorded by the city and state.

Most New Yorkers aren't as concerned about COVID due to vaccines and acquired immunity.
Vaccines have helped thwart many serious COVID cases.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Whoa! That suggests the once-deadly virus has shrunk to a pipsqueak. Because although the DOH can’t count unrecorded infections, it can and does count hospitalizations.
If the bug remains so dangerous and widespread, why aren’t our hospitals “overwhelmed,” to use the Times’ favorite scare word?

As for mortality: The DOH reports that of the daily average of five “COVID” deaths in the city, almost none are among vaccinated and boosted New Yorkers. The most recent figures show a daily death rate of an infinitesimal 0.15 for every 100,000 people. Yet even those numbers are suspect as they don’t say how many victims actually died of COVID and how many had COVID at the time of their deaths due to other causes.

In this light, the daily national death total which the Times cites every day — averaging 430 as of July 14 — is similarly useless to gauge the threat to vaccinated Americans as it doesn’t say how many had shots. But the Big Apple holds a clue: Since vaccines were first launched in January 2021, some 713 vaxxed and boosted New Yorkers have died of COVID compared with 8,749 who were unvaccinated. The disparity’s even greater than those figures suggest because vaccinated residents outnumber unvaccinated by more than three to one. 

Daily hospitalizations “are rising again” due to the highly transmissible variant BA.5, the paper warns. Yes, they’re up since April, per to the DOH — but only from the 50-60 range to 84-137 this month. And the seven-day average for admissions was only 86 as of July 10. Back on Jan. 5, it was 1,051, a bit more than 12 times as much, and the city’s hospitals coped quite well even at that 2022 peak.

A general view of a an Ellume home COVID test being sold in a vending machine at the Union Square subway station in New York, NY on March 9, 2022.
Many NYers are using at-home COVID tests to see if they have the virus.
Christopher Sadowski

And today’s hospitalizations aren’t just relatively minuscule compared with last winter’s, they’re microscopic in relation to 37,000 cases we’d have if the true number were really 10 times higher than reported.

Yet the Times won’t let go of hysteria-mongering. It quotes Dr. Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, warning, “There needs to be a lot more masking, and a lot more higher-quality masking.” He echoed panic-pusher city Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, who again recently “recommended” we all wear masks not only indoors but even outdoors “in large crowds.” (Mayor Eric Adams wisely declined to endorse the panic attack.)

Ironically, the Times reported in a different story that prolonged lockdowns and other restrictions in China are wrecking that country’s economy and crushing morale. But the lesson apparently is lost when it comes to the paper’s home turf.

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