What NYC’s antibodies test results reveal about COVID-19

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Some areas in New York City were hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than others, as new antibody data released by city officials highlights how lower-income communities felt the blow of the deadly virus more than other areas in the five boroughs.

The New York Times reported that New York City released its largest COVID-19 antibody test results — more than 1.46 million tests — on Tuesday, which showed how some areas in the Bronx and Queens were hit harder than parts of Manhattan, especially in more affluent areas.

As studies have shown, safety measures for curbing the virus-like social distancing were more difficult for lower-income communities due to the need to work.

A study from the University of California, Davis found that wealthier communities moved less outside of their community during the virus compared to those in lower-income communities. Researchers from the study said it could be because lower-income communities have more essential workers and were not able to continue their job from their homes.

In New York City, the antibodies tests — which is how a person can find out if they have ever had the virus — shows how one ZIP code in Queens had more than 50% of people tested for the virus had antibodies.

The New York Times noted that it’s a shockingly high rate when comparing areas of Manhattan, where zip codes south of 96th Street had no higher than a 20% positive rate.

Breaking it down by borough, the Bronx had the highest positive antibody result tests at 33%, while Manhattan had the lowest (19%). Queens was the second-highest borough that tested positive for antibodies with 28%. Brooklyn ranked third followed by Staten Island at rats of 27.9% and 20.1%, respectively.

The report noted a few interesting findings. ZIP codes with larger households were hit harder like Corona in Queens and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

As The Times notes, the correlation between the two revolves around jobs and homes.

In Corona, per the report:

The hardest hit ZIP code in the city — 11368 — was the one in Corona, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood with many construction workers and restaurant employees. Many had to work throughout the pandemic, raising their risk of infection.

About 23% of residents in the ZIP code have gotten an antibody test.

That part of Queens has an especially high rate of household crowding, which may also partly explain the high positive antibody rate. Experts have said transmission within households is a leading driver of the disease’s spread.

And in Borough Park:

Borough Park is home to many Hasidic Jews, a particularly hard-hit demographic. Large households are common, and the tight-knit, communal way of life was likely also a factor. Many Hasidic Jews fell sick in early March, right after Purim — a holiday of joyous celebration, full of parties and mingling.

The new data released could shine a light on the promise of herd immunity, which requires a large portion of a community to become immune to the disease.

Numbers vary on the population percentage but some have said it will take 70% of a community to have immunity, while others argue it is less.