ALBANY — Updated coronavirus COVID-19 antibody test results show almost 15% of New Yorkers have been exposed to the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, as the state Board of Elections voted Monday to cancel New York’s presidential primary.
Phase-two results of the state’s antibody testing survey show 14.9% of New York’s population has COVID-19 antibodies, indicating they were exposed to, recovered and are immune to the illness. The state has not conducted antibody testing on anyone under age 18.
Of about 7,500 New Yorkers tested to date, 52% were female and 48% were male. About 24.7% of positives were collected in New York City, with 14.4% on Long Island, 15.1% in Westchester and Rockland counties and 3.2% in the rest of the state.
The antibody study shows 2.6% positive in the Mohawk Valley, 1.2% in the North Country, 2.1% positive in the Capital Region, 10.4% in the Hudson Valley including Westchester and Rockland counties and 7.1% in Western New York.
“The antibody testing tells you where we are,” Cuomo said during Monday’s briefing in the state Capitol. “It gives us a snapshot of where we are.”
The virus infection rate continues to be highest in African-American, Latino, Hispanic and other communities of color. About 22.2% of people who identify as multiple, or other, races tested positive for virus antibodies. About 32% of Latino or Hispanic, 16.9% of blacks and 14.6% of Asians tested have COVID-19 antibodies. About 8.9% of whites tested positive. The state continues to prioritize diagnostic and antibody testing in communities of color.
New York’s COVID-19 fatalities reached 17,303 Monday — up from 16,599 Saturday and 16,966 Sunday. The state saw 337 virus-related deaths Sunday, including 313 in hospitals and 24 in nursing homes. The daily death toll continues a slight decline from 367 Saturday and 437 Friday.
The state tested 826,095 people as of Monday, revealing 291,996 total positive cases of COVID-19. Hospitalization rates also continued a downward trend to 12,819 Monday, down 685 patients from 12,839 Sunday. New hospitalizations remain flat at about 1,000 new virus patients per day statewide. COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide have returned to numbers from March 31.
“We don’t want to see flat, we want to see an increasing decline,” Cuomo said, adding hospital discharges may be down on Sundays. “Hopefully it was a Sunday anomaly.”
The state reported 4,157 patients in intensive care. The net change in intubations was down 92 fewer patients Monday to 3,485 total, according to the governor’s office.
The state’s overall infection rate is 0.8%, which means one person infected with COVID-19 is infecting about 0.8, or less than one, other person. A week ago, New York’s infection rate was 0.9%. The state’s margin of error is 0.8-1.2%, so the margin error for a virus outbreak resurgence is small, Cuomo said.
“You can blow through that window like wind through reeds,” Cuomo said. “The worst situation is when one person infects two people — that’s fire in dry grass...that’s where we were when this started. Right now, we’re at 0.8%, and that is good news. Statistically, it’s very close.”
Upstate New York’s infection rate is 0.9% compared to 0.75% downstate. Officials continue to monitor the state hospitalization rate and COVID-19 antibody and diagnostic tests results to determine if the infection rate continues its downward trend.
Under new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states and regions must show a 14-day decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Cuomo said.
The state’s first phase to reopen will include low-risk businesses, such as construction and manufacturing industries. State officials are speaking with more essential and lower-risk businesses one-on-one about their reopening plans. Businesses must consider the vulnerable populations in their staff, how employees and customers can maintain social distancing, limit gathering sizes and have adequate personal protective equipment, such as masks or gloves, before reopening.
Businesses and government agencies must also assess the cleaning and hygiene in the workplace, capacity requirements, access, travel, transportation, training, risk and communication processes.
“This is not a one-sided equation here,” Cuomo said. “Businesses need to think how they will open under this new normal...We need them to be creative and think outside of the box.
“These are all factors for businesses to consider who want to reopen quickly,” he added. “The way a business opens determines the risk.”
The state does not have a time frame when regions will start to reopen. The NY Pause executive order, which closed all schools and nonessential businesses, is in effect through May 15. The NY Pause order will be extended in many parts of the state beyond May 15, the governor said.
“There is no ‘x’ date,” Cuomo said. “You listen to the national experts...who said there could be a second wave. Nobody’s giving anybody a date here.”
Grocery store workers, transit workers, teachers and all essential employees are eligible for diagnostic testing under the state’s expanded testing criteria. Under the new testing criteria, Cuomo said diagnostic and antibody testing will become more widely available to frontline workers.
The state will dramatically increase testing on first responders, health care workers and essential workers such as paramedics, police officers, EMTs and firefighters. Providing testing to those groups is a way of acknowledging the sacrifices frontline workers have made during the crisis, Cuomo said.
To see the complete county breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide, view the COVID-19 map and tracker at hudsonvalley360.com/site/covid19.html
The Tribune News Service contributed to this report.