Despite efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates across the city and state, officials are concerned about highly infectious variants, which are fueling the spread of the coronavirus across the five boroughs.

Data released by the state Tuesday shows COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide stand at 4,681, a number that has remained stubbornly high for weeks on end. Of the 143,521 tests reported Monday, 6,801 came back positive, bringing the state’s COVID-19 infection rate to 4.7% — a 1.5% increase from just this weekend. There were 53 deaths, many of them in the five boroughs. 

Citywide, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported 3,334 new cases and 203 new hospitalizations. 

Citywide, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported 3,334 new cases and 203 new hospitalizations. 

The news comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed forward with reopening plans, including the expansion of indoor dining and the resumption of group fitness classes.

Mayor de Blasio has been critical of the governor’s strategy, while moving forward with his own reopening plans: announcing Tuesday that the city’s 80,000 municipal employees will return to their offices on May 3. 

“Obviously, our health care team vehemently disagreed with the governor and the state of New York on reopening fitness classes, which are very different than schools, very different than offices. Why? Because people are in the middle of exertion. Physical exertion, they're expending a lot of a breath,” the mayor said.

De Blasio went on to further explain his thoughts on reopening in the face of a variant surge, justifying his approach with a boom in coronavirus vaccine supply. Variants are now responsible for more than half of new cases, according to data released by the city earlier this month

“There's real concern about the variants, but we do see progress, unquestionably, and we also are watching the steady pace of vaccination. We know it's about to uptick intensely and we believe that's the most critical factor,” de blasio said. “So, we're making decisions about what can be moved with all that in mind, but we're also saying some areas where we don't think there should be changes or needs to be a different approach.”

Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, emphasized the need for New Yorkers to remain vigilant against the virus.

“All of the things that you've heard us say that we know works with respect to beating back the virus — masking, distancing, hand washing, getting tested, getting vaccinated when it's your turn — those are the things that will help us in what is ultimately a tug of war between nature and New Yorkers.”