South Ozone Park, Queens is one of about two dozen city neighborhoods that still has a seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate of 10% or higher.
Michelle Boodram says she still takes all the precautions, especially while running errands.
"I wear my mask. I have my hand sanitizer. You know, I try to be careful because of my kids. I don't want them getting sick,” said Boodram.
After dropping for several weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the city has stabilized, leaving the metropolitan region with one of the highest case rates in the nation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday reminded New Yorkers their behavior matters.
"It's how people act, it's the virus. Depending on our behavior is how the virus spreads,“ said Cuomo.
Dr. Anna Bershteyn, an assistant professor at NYU Lagone, says an easing of COVID-19 restrictions may be one reason why the number of new cases is no longer declining.
But she says it may have more to do with the more contagious COVID-19 variants that now make up more than half of the new cases in the city. She's especially concerned about the variants that were first detected in South Africa and Brazil, even though they are not yet that common here.
"They can reinfect people who have had COVID before and they can reduce the efficacy of vaccines at least a little bit, some vaccines more than others,” said Dr. Bershteyn.
Bershteyn says the variant that was first detected in the UK does not appear to reinfect people with COVID-19 and the vaccines are effective against it. She and other doctors are still studying how vaccines work against a variant that was first detected in the city.
She expects COVID-19 rates will start dropping again as more New Yorkers get vaccinated.
"It's how infectious is the virus multiplied by how many people are susceptible to the virus. The more we vaccinate, the more we can drive down susceptibility,” said Dr. Bershteyn.
Bershteyn and city health officials say safety protocols like wearing face coverings, social distancing and washing your hands do protect against the variants. That's why New Yorkers are being urged not to let down their guard.