Several New York zip codes are reporting infection rates five times higher than statewide rate

New York has reported several Covid-19 clusters that have created “hotspot” zip codes, the governor said, with a positivity rate about five times more than statewide.



a person taking a selfie in a car: Medical technicians work at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company's Westchester campus in Tarrytown, New York, U.S. September 17, 2020. Picture taken September 17, 2020. Brendan McDermid/Reuters


© Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Medical technicians work at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company’s Westchester campus in Tarrytown, New York, U.S. September 17, 2020. Picture taken September 17, 2020. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

The new clusters are a “stark reminder” that the state is still not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“We’ve had clusters in the past stemming from factories, churches, bars and other locations,” Cuomo said . “We’re quite familiar with this, and when there’s a cluster, we are very aggressive on it and we’re oversampling in the clusters.”

Cuomo’s announcement comes as states across the US have begun reporting alarming Covid-19 trends in recent days — and after experts warned of a coming surge in cases.

Wisconsin reported its highest number of Covid-19 hospitalizations on record, with patients nearly doubling in the state since September 18, according to hospital officials. The governor of Illinois is tightening restrictions in one part of the state after an increase in positivity rates. And in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear urged the state needs to stop a recent “escalation” of cases after reporting more than 1,000 new infections for the second day in a row.

At least 27 states have reported more new cases since the previous week and only nine are reporting a decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nationwide, more than 7.2 million people have been infected and more than 206,000 Americans have died.

When a vaccine could be available to US population

On Wednesday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said if their Covid-19 vaccine is proven safe and effective, it could be available to the general population by late March or early April.

Moderna began their Phase 3 clinical trial for Covid-19 in the US in July. It’s one of four companies that have begun Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials in the US — the others include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca trial was paused after an unexplained illness in a volunteer, and US health authorities are still considering crucial questions that remain around the injections of the experimental vaccine.

“I think a late Q1, early Q2 approval is a reasonable timeline, based on what we know from our vaccine,” Bancel said at a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

But there are several steps that will have to come before that.

If the safety and efficacy data checks out, Bancel says he expects Moderna will be able to file a Biologics License Application (BLA) with the US Food and Drug Administration by late January or early February. That application asks the FDA to consider fully licensing a drug, while an emergency use authorization (EUA) expedites a drug candidate for use on an emergency basis.

Moderna could file for an EUA as early as November 25 for