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New positives for COVID-19 in New York top 1,000 for first time since May

A health care professional tests for COVID-19 at

A health care professional tests for COVID-19 at the ProHEALTH testing site in Jericho on March 31, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The state’s coronavirus positivity rate continued to rise, as the number of New Yorkers newly diagnosed with COVID-19 passed 1,000 for the first time since May, state data released Saturday shows.

COVID-19 rates are increasing nationwide, as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus spreads, with serious illnesses resulting almost exclusively among unvaccinated people, medical experts say.

The percentage of people receiving positive test results in New York on Friday climbed to 1.39%, from 1.23% on Thursday, and the seven-day positivity rate increased to 1.19%, from 1.09%, the state reported. That’s more than triple the 0.35% rate on June 23.

Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell Health, said the spike was "disappointing, but not surprising."

"There is complete, blatant disregard for the need to mask if you’re not vaccinated, and this is what’s going to happen," he said.

Some people "are misinterpreting what opening up means," Battinelli said.

"When the numbers get low, the belief is the virus is gone," he said. "It’s exactly the opposite. All it means is the virus is not able to propagate among its hosts, which are humans, because of vaccinations and masks. Let up on either, and this will happen not just this time but time again, time again and time again."

There were 1,156 positive test results reported Friday, the highest number since May 21. There were 981 cases on Thursday and 275 on June 28.

In Nassau County, the number of new cases jumped to 106, from 87 on Thursday, and in Suffolk the number increased to 75, from 73.

Long Island’s seven-day positivity rate increased to 1.37%, up from 1.28% on Thursday.

Marc Adler, chief medical officer of NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola, says "the real concern will be in the fall," when cooler weather moves more activities indoors, and when many people likely will continue not wearing masks.

"We’re optimistic compared to a year ago because we now have [more than] 70% of the adult population in this region vaccinated," he said. "We didn’t have that a year ago."

In Nassau County, 80.8% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose, and in Suffolk, 73.6% have, according to state health department data released Saturday.

While touting Nassau's vaccination rate, the highest of any large county in the state, County Executive Laura Curran urged unvaccinated residents to get inoculated.

"As the Delta variant continues to spread, residents who remain unvaccinated continue to be the most at risk," she said in a statement.

In New York City, the delta variant now represents more than two-thirds of COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.

Vaccines offer strong protection, Battinelli said.

"The good news is anyone who was vaccinated and gets exposed to the delta variant and becomes positive, they’re not getting sick," he said. "We’re not seeing hospital numbers going up yet. Once vulnerable populations get infected, I anticipate we’ll see some increase in hospitalization numbers."

Hospitalizations statewide fell slightly on Friday but increased on Long Island.

On Long Island, there were 59 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Friday, up from 53 on Thursday.

Statewide, 354 people were in hospitals with COVID-19, down from 360 on Thursday but still higher than the 340 hospitalized on Wednesday.

At NYU Long Island, Adler said, "the patients coming in the hospital are generally the younger, unvaccinated population now."

Younger people are less likely to get severely ill or die from COVID-19, he said.

Fewer than half of New Yorkers 16 to 25 are fully vaccinated, compared with more than 84% of residents 65 to 74, according to health department statistics.

Despite the sharp rise in cases, New York still has a much lower per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases compared with most other states.

In general, states with low levels of COVID-19 vaccination have the highest rates of new cases. New York State outside New York City had 19.3 cases per 100,000 people over the past week, and New York City had 33.9, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Friday.

In contrast, Arkansas had 235.9 cases per 100,000, and Missouri had 218.1.

Four people died of COVID-19 in New York on Friday, none on Long Island.

The state’s vaccination rate inched up Friday to 73.7% of adults who have at least one vaccine dose and 67.2% who are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data reported by the state.

On Long Island, 2,851 people received their first vaccine dose in the 24 hours ending 11 a.m. Saturday, and 2,630 people got their second dose — or their single Johnson & Johnson dose.

With Matthew Chayes

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