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Delta Variant Intensifies Urgency To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Health Experts Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new, more contagious COVID variant is making its way around the world.

Experts say it's intensifying the urgency to get more people vaccinated, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Monday.

People without masks enjoying Central Park and the resurgence of indoor dining are indications of a return to normalcy.

"New York State has virtually the lowest positivity rate in the United States of America," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "That is a fact."

But the sense of relief it brings comes with a warning.


The Delta variant, which originated in India, poses a threat as cases in the U.S. multiply. Officials say it's on track to becoming the dominant strain in just months.

"I think the risk is really to the fall that this could spike a new epidemic heading into the fall," said former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Those who are unvaccinated are most at risk and already make up a vast majority of new infections and hospitalizations.

"The pandemic is primarily a pandemic among unvaccinated people," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Forty-seven percent of city residents are fully vaccinated. That drops to 33.5% in the 10039 zip code, which covers central Harlem and Washington Heights.

"It's kind of hard going into the process of building up the confidence to take it," said Bobby Smith.

"I'm still a little hesitant because it's still brand new, but I would get it because I want to stay protected," said Natural Lynch.

Basketball courts in the Claremont section of the Bronx were drawing crowds on Monday night. People were clearly comfortable making moves with no masks, even in a community that isn't well protected yet by the vaccine, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

"Within the next month I'm gonna take it, but I just want to wait a little while," resident Nadine McLeod said.

McLeod lives in zip code 10456, where the fully vaccinated rate of barely 32% is one of the lowest in the city.

"I'm hesitant because a lot of my peoples who have took it have gotten sick off the second shot," McLeod said.

"It's not that I don't trust it. It's that the science hasn't been completed yet," another resident said.

"Everybody have a different belief," another person added.


Cuomo compiled a list of zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates in the state. He urged local governments to do more to address concerns, with a focus on those 12 to 17 years old.

COVID restrictions are being lifted and a full reopening, including city schools, is slated for the fall.

The good news in all of this is that health officials say COVID vaccines appear to provide adequate protection against the Delta variant and others strains, proving the shots are still the best defense we have.

Delta is the dominant COVID strain in the U.K. and its spread has delayed the country's plans to lift restrictions.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report

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