ALBANY — Nearly a quarter-million New Yorkers’ COVID-19 test results were reported Thursday, the most ever in one day in the state.
The number of new infections reported Thursday also hit a new high — 12,697 — and the official death toll grew by 120, one of the largest daily increases since May.
Other data were more positive. The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with the virus dropped slightly, one of the few day-to-day declines since September. And New York retains one of the lowest positive test rates of any state or U.S. territory.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news conference Friday said he believes the state can and will avoid a shutdown in early 2020, when infection rates will spike if New Yorkers aren’t careful to avoid spreading the virus during Christmas, New Year’s and other holiday celebrations. This is apparently what happened at Thanksgiving.
“I believe New Yorkers are seeing the numbers and the increase from Thanksgiving, and I think they’re going to learn from it,” Cuomo said.
Also Friday, he said a state task force had approved use in New York of the new Moderna vaccine, and 346,000 doses of it should arrive here next week.
Hospitals have begun vaccinating critical medical personnel with the previously approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Residents and employees of nursing homes, where the pandemic has exacted a terrible toll, will begin to receive shots next week.
Additionally, it was discovered this week that the five-shot Pfizer vials may contain enough vaccine for six or seven shots, depending on certain variables such as syringe size. So up to 20 or 40 percent more people can be vaccinated than initially estimated with the limited first allocation of the Pfizer vaccine.
The state Department of Health issued an advisory Friday authorizing this increased usage, where possible.
Cuomo has said the official state death toll — 28,344 as of Friday morning — likely undercounts the actual cumulative number of COVID-related deaths in New York.
The actual number of deaths on a given day is even harder to pin down, due to delays in reporting across jurisdictions.
Among the 120 new deaths the state reported Friday, it counted one each in Albany, Montgomery and Schenectady counties, for example. But Albany County said Friday there have been no deaths since Tuesday, Montgomery County does not report deaths immediately, and Schenectady County reported four new resident deaths Friday.
Schenectady County clarified that the four new deaths — three men and a woman ranging from their 60s to their 80s — came on three different dates, and the county learned of all four deaths Friday. These reporting delays can happen when a Schenectady County resident dies of COVID in another county.
The one-day death toll may be more useful as a barometer of the direction the pandemic is taking than as an actual daily snapshot.
For example, there may or may not have been just two COVID deaths in all of New York state on Sept. 18, and may or may not have been exactly 120 deaths on Dec. 17, but the steady upward trend over the interceding three months is unmistakable.
The official statewide death toll rose from 25,413 to 28,344 in that period, a 12 percent increase.
By Schenectady County’s own reporting, the cumulative death toll there rose from 46 on Sept. 17 to 68 on Dec. 17, a 48 percent increase.
As of Friday, the state-reported death toll for counties in the greater Capital Region — which may vary from the numbers the counties themselves report, due to reporting delays or discrepancies — was as follows:
- Albany 177
- Columbia 59
- Fulton 29
- Greene 18
- Hamilton 1
- Montgomery 24
- Rensselaer 70
- Saratoga 27
- Schenectady 67
- Schoharie 2
- Warren 30
- Washington 14