ALBANY — Another week of antibody testing across the state showed 14.9% of New Yorkers have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
The 7,500 people tested so far make up a tiny snapshot of the 19.5 million New Yorkers, but that snapshot is one more factor that helps decide when the state can reopen its economy, and where, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily briefing Monday.
Statewide, 14.9% of those tested showed presence of COVID antibodies, which are produced by the body’s immune system to fight off infection. That’s up from 13.9% in the first week of testing.
Geographically, the percentage ranged from 1.2% positive in the North Country to 24.7% in New York City. The Capital Region and Mohawk Valley were 2.1% and 2.6%, respectively.
Cuomo said the numbers point to differing strategies for reopening.
“When you see 1.2% in the North County, 2.6 Mohawk Valley, Capital District, you see a much different situation than you’re looking at in New York City where you’re in the 20s. Different situations, different strategy going forward,” he said.
The governor suggested that reopening might happen soon in parts of upstate, where the pandemic’s impact has been relatively mild and there is growing popular sentiment and political pressure for reopening.
He said his New York on Pause order, which has frozen much of the economy at a cost of untold billions of dollars, could be partially lifted.
“We want to un-pause,” Cuomo said. “May 15 is when the Pause regulations expire statewide. I will extend them in many parts of the state. But in some parts of the state, some regions, you could make the case that we should un-pause on May 15.”
The numbers are going in the right direction. As of Monday morning, total COVID hospitalizations had been unchanged or down 14 days in a row, net change in hospitalizations flat or down 13 days, new hospitalizations flat or down 10 days. The 337 deaths in the preceding 24 hours was less than half the daily toll during what may have been the pandemic’s peak in New York, earlier this month.
The governor spoke once again of a long-term effort and a gradual reopening.
For example, he wants to leave the temporary hospital beds in place for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and the next flu season, later this year.
He also still wants to reshape New York into a more equitable place where the poor don’t die in greater numbers because they are less able to pay for care.
Of those who took the antibody tests, Hispanics were infected at a rate of 32%, blacks 16.9%, Asians 14.6% and whites 8.9%
“Yes, life is going to be different,” Cuomo said. “But different in this case can mean better if we’re smart about it. And when we are finished going through this, we should be tougher and smarter and more resilient and more unified and better than before.”
The state data on antibody testing showed one other disparity: gender. Through Sunday, 13.1% of women tested showed the COVID antibodies, compared with 16.9% of men. The gender split has been present in diagnostic testing for the virus, with men accounting for 52% of the positive tests, and in deaths — men constitute 59.6% of those confirmed to have died while infected by the virus in New York.
In other COVID-19 related developments Monday:
- Statewide, 291,996 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and 17,303 had died from the disease as of Monday morning. In the Capital Region, Albany County reported four new deaths.
- Albany Medical Center, the Capital Region’s largest hospital, said Monday that it is treating every patient transferred from a nursing home as potentially infected with COVID-19, and placing them on a unit dedicated to COVID care. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but numerous Capital Region nursing homes and adult care facilities have been hit with the pandemic. Schenectady County has reported 12 deaths at adult care facilities, including three at Ingersoll Place; Albany County has reported three deaths at Shaker Place; and Rensselaer County has seen eight deaths at Diamond Hill. Scores of residents and staff at these and other facilities are confirmed infected. Statewide, 3,625 resident deaths are shown on a state list that is outdated and incorrect.
- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced billions in funding for New York hospitals in the second round of federal CARES Act funding. Sums in the Capital Region include Albany Medical Center $20.3 million, Cobleskill Regional Medical Center $578,000, Columbia Memorial Hospital $2.81 million, Ellis Medicine $8.03 million, Glens Falls Hospital $6.06 million, Nathan Littauer Hospital $2.05 million, St. Mary’s Healthcare $3.21 million, St. Peter’s Hospital $12.31 million, Samaritan Hospital $6.35 million, Saratoga Hospital $7.05 million and Sunnyview Hospital $1.12 million.
- The next round of the joint COVID-19 testing effort by Ellis Medicine and Schenectady County will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mont Pleasant Middle School, 1121 Forest Road. No prescription or insurance coverage is needed. On Monday, 146 people were tested at another pop-up site, far exceeding the goal of 100.
- The Siena College Research Institute released a poll on the pandemic. Findings included: 78% of registered New York voters trust Cuomo to make a decision on reopening New York’s economy while 16% trust President Trump; 51% know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and 32% know someone who has died; a third of New York households include some who is laid-off and half have someone working from home.
- The New York Farm Bureau hailed Cuomo’s announcement of Nourish New York, which will purchase food and products from farms and distribute them to food banks. Cuomo said demand for food assistance has soared at food banks — 40% on Long Island, 40-60% upstate and 100% in New York City. Meanwhile, farmers are having trouble selling goods because schools and restaurants have limited or halted purchases. It’s common sense to put the two together, the governor said.
- SUNY Cobleskill will host a dairy and pantry drive through from 10 a.m. to noon Friday in Parking Lot C next to Agway on Route 7 west. Delivery will be available on a limited basis to those who cannot drive there; requests can be emailed to [email protected]. The event is in cooperation with the Schoharie County Farm Bureau, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and many community volunteers.
- U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she will serve on the Bipartisan Northeast Congressional COVID-19 Regional Recovery Task Force. The Task Force will work with leading economic and public health experts to create bipartisan recommendations and policy proposals to get Americans back to work.