COVID-19 hospitalizations increased statewide by 20 patients, the largest one-day increase since June 14, according to state data released Friday.
The number of patients increased from 340 to 360, the state reported. That is still well below 2020 levels. A year ago, New York had 813 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.
It's part of a trend of rising COVID-19 indicators over the last few weeks, fueled by a new variant of the virus and a large number of people still unvaccinated, according to medical experts.
"It makes me nervous," said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, senior vice president of critical care for Northwell Health.
"I think what has happened is that everyone has let their guard down completely, and we’re going to see this rise as this highly contagious variant comes through," she said.
Narasimhan added that almost all the people being hospitalized in her system were not vaccinated. That actually gives her some "solace," however, that vaccinated people are protected.
The rise on Thursday in hospitalizations did not apply to Long Island, which saw one fewer patient hospitalized, down to 53 from 54 patients a day earlier and 60 patients a week ago.
Dr. Gregson Pigott, commissioner of health services for Suffolk County, warned Friday that the virus and its variants continued to circulate on Long Island and around the world.
"The only way to prevent new variants from emerging — and potentially vaccine-resistant variants — is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible," Pigott said.
County Executive Laura Curran noted Nassau had a relatively high vaccination rate, but more was needed. "This virus is a real risk for the unvaccinated, and getting your shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick or dying from COVID," she said.
Daily new cases of COVID-19 dropped slightly on Long Island in the latest figures released Friday, but the levels remained more than triple what they were just a few weeks ago. The seven-day positivity level in testing continued to rise.
The number of new confirmed cases in Nassau County dropped from 91 to 87 in the last two days, but was well above the 17 cases registered on May 31, according to state statistics.
The number in Suffolk County dropped from 83 to 73 in the last two days, but was also above recent lows, including 18 on June 24.
The positivity level in tests continued upward, going from 1.04% to 1.28% on Long Island over the last four days.
Medical experts said the rise in cases is being driven by a new, more contagious variant called the delta, and the substantial number of people who are still not vaccinated.
Across the state, two people died Thursday of causes linked to COVID-19. Neither of the fatalities was on Long Island.
The statewide seven-day average for positivity in test results was above 1% for the second day in a row, registering 1.09%.
COVID-19 indicators have been inching up for more than two weeks on Long Island and throughout the state.
The seven-day daily average of new cases for Long Island reached 126 in results including Thursday, a 68% increase over the prior week's average of 75 cases.
In Nassau, the increase was 61.9% from a 42-case average one week ago to 68 cases reported Friday. Suffolk's average climbed 72.7% to 57 cases, from 33, a week ago.
While infectious disease experts said they do not believe the numbers of new daily cases will get near the figures of the worst days of the pandemic, they are concerned with the recent uptick.
Many said they expect the virus to remain present in New York and throughout the country for years, if not permanently, since the region and the United States do not appear headed for "herd immunity," in which so many people are vaccinated the virus is effectively killed off.
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