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COVID-19 positive tests on Long Island see big increase over past week, state data shows

Cars line up at a drive-thru testing site

Cars line up at a drive-thru testing site in Jericho last week. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The number of people on Long Island testing positive for COVID-19 is now 5.38%, a marked increase from 3.64% one week ago, according to figures released by the state on Sunday.

Those statistics represent the 7-day rolling average of positive tests. The statewide daily positivity rate for New York is 4.71%, officials said.

Health experts warned that crowded Thanksgiving gatherings could trigger a new surge in COVID-19 cases in mid-December. They have doubled down on warnings for people to take precautions as the holiday season ramps up throughout the month.

There were 9,702 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported across New York on Saturday, including 1,119 in Suffolk County and 739 in Nassau County. That brings the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 705,827 cases.

Suffolk’s numbers were the second highest in the state, coming after 3,127 new cases in New York City.

Of the 56 COVID-related deaths reported on Saturday, five were in Suffolk County.

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"COVID-19 is spreading, and it affects all New Yorkers, Upstate and downstate," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday in a statement. "This is a war and we continue to adapt to the enemy by making decisions based on data and science — not opinion and fear."

Cuomo said the state is "closely monitoring" hospital capacity, but reiterated concerns from public health officials that households and private gatherings are the main source of COVID-19 transmissions.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is the vaccine, and one is coming, but until then we must be disciplined," he said.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported 213,875 new cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. on Sunday, with a total that now exceeds 14.5 million people. The death toll from COVID-19 is now 281,186 with the addition of 2,254 people, the center said on Sunday.

In most of the four Long Island areas that have been designated microclusters — geographic regions with concentrated, higher rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases — the positivity rates have continued to climb. The microclusters are color coded with yellow marking the earliest warning stage, followed by orange and red, which may require more restrictions and an economic shutdown.

"The cold weather and holidays are new hurdles in our fight against COVID-19 but we need to work together to contain disease activity while we await the vaccine," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Sunday in a statement. "With our cases and hospitalizations substantially higher than they were a month ago, I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to keep practicing the common-sense guidance that our public health professionals recommend — wear a face covering, avoid large gatherings and get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed."

The Great Neck Yellow Zone focus area showed a seven-day rolling average of 4.33% for Saturday compared with 3.93% for last Saturday.

The Massapequa Park Yellow Zone focus area's seven-day rolling average was 6.39%, an increase from 5.12% last Saturday.

In Suffolk County, the Hampton Bays Yellow Zone focus area was 6.63% over a seven-day rolling average, a slight decrease from 7.00% last Saturday.

And in Riverhead, the Yellow Zone focus area's seven-day rolling average was 5.01% positive, up from 3.49% the previous Saturday.

Dr. James Schneider, chief of pediatric critical care medicine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, has been monitoring the uptick in COVID-19 cases among children. He said people who are getting tired of wearing masks, socially distancing and following other COVID-19 protocols need to take a wider view of the pandemic.

"People have to understand that their behavior has a huge impact on everyone else around them, not just themselves," Schneider said. "So that's why I don't really consider this a personal decision or personal choice. This is a public choice, and we all are in this."

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