NEW YORK — Health officials say young people are continuing to account for a greater percentage of the new COVID-19 infections in New York state.
The 20- to 29-year-old demographic now accounts for 13.2% of confirmed positive test results, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing Thursday, up from 9.9% a week earlier. Too many are congregating in group settings ideal for transmitting the virus, the governor said.
Paraphrasing the Beastie Boys’ classic anthem, he admonished: “This is not the time to fight for your right to party.”
New York City and Long Island have gotten a lot of attention for this type of activity but Cuomo on Thursday cited the July Fourth block party in Albany that’s now blamed for more than 30 infections.
“One bad event, one bad group, can be a real problem. One party, 30 people,” he said.
By a significant margin, county residents who are 20 to 29 years old account for the largest single age group among those who have tested positive for COVID in Albany County — 426 out of 2,168.
But just one of the 124 Albany County residents known to have died of COVID has been under age 50.
The numbers are similar in Schenectady County — ages 20 to 29 have the most infections of any 10-year demographic but there’s been just one known death under age 50 among the 40 county residents who’ve died of COVID.
Statewide, only 93 victims age 20 to 29 are counted among the 25,081 people on the official New York death toll.
Knocking down the idea that “COVID won’t kill me” is the theme of a new state ad campaign targeted at young adults. Cuomo has said repeatedly that young people can, in fact, be killed by COVID, but more important, they can transmit the infection to the older people around them.
The governor said Thursday he’s heard some “inane” excuses from young adults for not following precautionary guidelines.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is escalating in many of the other 49 states, creating an army of newly infected people from whom to catch the virus.
Data gathered by the federal Centers for Disease Control show that while New York state has been holding steady at or below 5,000 new infections in a rolling seven-day period, numerous other states have been surging. Florida has surpassed 77,000, Texas 69,000 and California 65,000.
New York, initially the epicenter of the pandemic, accounted for just 4,684 of the 465,435 cases confirmed nationwide in the last seven days, 25th-highest among the 50 states below Michigan and above Utah.
The virus inevitably will be transported into New York from those other states, Cuomo has said.
But he pointed out another problem created by the surge in other states: testing capacity.
Promptly diagnosing people who are infected, getting them quarantined and identifying those who have been in close contact with them have been key tools to flatten the pandemic in New York.
The 200 or so labs in New York analyze 70 percent of the 50,000 to 70,000 diagnostic samples collected each day statewide. A handful of national labs perform the other 30 percent.
The in-state labs have a median reporting time of two days and an average reporting time of 2.6 days, Cuomo said Thursday. But the national labs, inundated by millions of diagnostic samples, are averaging six to 10 days, which is so long as to be almost ineffective for containing an infection.
Further, the New York labs have been working around the clock for months, Cuomo said, and will be constrained to devote so much attention to COVID-19 once the flu season — their traditional busy time — starts in October.
“The flu tests, we fear, will eat at the capacity for the COVID tests,” he said. “That’s compounding this fear of a second wave in New York.”