STD levels remained high throughout pandemic, reports health dept.

The Big Apple’s restaurants, bars and nightclubs were still largely shuttered last summer, but that didn’t stop New Yorkers from keeping busy — with each other.

The five boroughs saw rates for sexually transmitted diseases jump back to pre-pandemic levels by July 2020, just a month after the state’s initial lockdown orders were lifted and replaced by social distancing rules that forced most other activities outside.

The stats released Wednesday by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that chlamydia and syphilis case tallies that month pounded the numbers posted in July 2019.

The growth in syphilis was so pronounced that 2020 saw more cases than 2019 for the entire year, even with the springtime shutdown.

HIV and gonorrhea put up stiff competition, too, as case rates came close to their 2019 levels by July 2020, the DOH said.


The DOH’s data for the entire year shows that total chlamydia and gonorrhea case counts softened in 2020 compared to 2019 — but that analysis includes the lockdown months.

Officials were unable to pinpoint exactly when the STD surge began — or if the massive drop-off in new cases during the spring of 2020 was caused by New Yorkers having less sex or simply forgoing testing during the pandemic.

Streets were empty in Times Square amid COVID-19 lockdowns on April 2, 2020.
Robert Miller

“We know that sexually transmitted infection transmission has continued throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, however many New Yorkers did not seek routine testing last year,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi in a statement, urging New Yorkers to start getting tested again.

“STIs can cause long-lasting harm and I encourage New Yorkers to speak with their health care providers about sexual health services,” he added.

The Health Department offers free and reduced price testing and treatment at clinics across the city to teenagers older than 12 and adult New Yorkers. Locations and details are available at