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New Yorkers collecting at-home test kits from a van in the Lower East Side on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY

Health: Trends to Watch for the Future of NYC

COVID more than doubled city yearly deaths and coincided with record fatal drug overdoses. In better news: more New Yorkers now have health insurance

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SHARE Health: Trends to Watch for the Future of NYC

The start of 2022 marks a point of transition between Bill de Blasio’s eight years in charge of New York City and the arrival of Mayor Eric Adams. A mostly new City Council also just took office.

Beginning today, THE CITY is giving New York City a checkup by tracking its vital signs year by year on health, poverty, crime, housing, environment, homelessness, transportation and education, showing progress through de Blasio’s terms in office into the pandemic — and the stage set for Adams.


The coronavirus pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on New Yorkers, killing 35,203 as of Dec. 27. The city medical examiner recorded more than twice as many deaths in the year that ended June 30, 2020, than in the pre-COVID year prior. But some hope is on the horizon: While COVID is still claiming lives, 2021 brought far fewer fatalities than 2020. 


During the pandemic, fatal drug overdoses shot up past record levels, surpassing 2,000 a year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced people into isolation and broke support systems, accelerating overdose deaths, with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl claiming a majority of the lives lost to drugs. 

The Bronx had the highest drug overdose rate in the city, with neighborhoods such as Hunts Point-Mott Haven and Crotona-Tremont reporting rates that are more than twice the citywide rate. 

To combat the surge, de Blasio in December 2021 authorized two supervised injection sites, where people are given clean needles and Naloxone is available to reverse overdoses.


New York City cut its uninsured population by more than half in 10 years through 2019, with the most dramatic declines reported in 2014 and 2015 after the state opened its New York State of Health marketplace programs. The insurance exchange allows residents to enroll in insurance plans, including those subsidized under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In 2019, 6.9% of the population was without insurance: 2% of children under the age of 19 and 8.3% of people 19 and older.

As of January 2021, nearly 3 million New Yorkers were enrolled in insurance plans through New York State of Health, which was created under the Affordable Care Act. This got a boost in the pandemic as the enrollment increased by roughly half a million from February 2020 to January 2021.

Read our coverage on health. For coronavirus-related numbers, check out our tracker.