NEW YORK - Dr. Theodore Strange, the chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital, is grasping a new reality he hoped he wouldn't have to face: a major spike in the COVID-19 positivity rate right now on Staten Island.
"Vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective. And on this weekend that we are celebrating freedom and independence, if we are going to become free and independent of this pandemic, please go get the vaccine," Strange said.
He said the COVID-19 uptick is in some neighborhoods along the south shore: Great Kills, Tottenville, Prince's Bay.
The current positivity rate in the 10309 ZIP code on a seven-day average is 5.86%, which is the highest in the city. The second highest rate is in the 10308 ZIP code, the Great Kills area, with 5.03%. Rob Marshall lives in the area and hasn't gotten vaccinated.
"I don't trust the vaccine for one plus I had COVID a few months ago so I still have the antibodies for it," Marshall said.
Vincent Piacenti also lives here and did get his vaccine shots but he shared with us some fears that his neighbors have.
"People have a whole question mark [about] if it's going to be good down the road, who's pregnant and so forth," Piacenti said.
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Strange said he is seeing vaccine resistance in more affluent parts of the borough and specifically with people in their teens, 20s, and 30s.
"People are still getting very sick from this disease, people are still going on respirators in our critical care units and it's no longer just 65 and older, it's no longer just hypertension, diabetes, obesity," he said. "I can tell you without any uncertainty we have a few young people."
Strange said the vast majority of COVID patients being admitted at his hospital are not vaccinated.
In a positive update, he said most Staten Islanders 65 and older have gotten at least one shot.