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NY sees progress as virus rates drop in state's red zones, governor says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gives a coronavirus briefing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gives a coronavirus briefing in Albany on Oct. 17. Credit: Office of the Governor

Even as COVID-19 cases surge elsewhere in the country, New York continued to make progress against the coronavirus in several "red zones" where spikes occurred, according to state figures released Saturday.

Meanwhile on Long Island, officials announced Saturday that Valley Stream Central High School would move from hybrid to remote learning Monday after a second confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school this week.

The building will reopen for "in-person, hybrid instruction" on Nov. 9, according to an email to parents Saturday from Bill Heidenreich, Valley Stream superintendent of schools, and Joseph Pompilio, Central High principal. "Hybrid learning will continue at Memorial, North and South," the email said.

"The district must follow guidance from the Nassau County Department of Health" and close the buildings, the email said. "We are taking this action to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and families,"

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the positive testing rate in all areas under the state's "microcluster" strategy was 2.58% Friday, a decrease from the 3.18% in the Oct. 4-10 period. The figure represented a slight increase from the prior day when it stood at 2.31%, according to state figures.

In the Rockland County red zone, for example, the infection rate dropped to 1.23% Friday, a major decrease from 9.7% in the previously mentioned time period this month. And in Orange County, where the infection rate was 12.4% early this month, the figure stood at 2.8% Friday, according to state figures.

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Some areas, such as a hot spot in Brooklyn, continued to struggle with the viral surge. The Brooklyn red zone had a positivity rate of 5.8% early this month. And while Friday's rate of 4.2% represented an improvement, it was higher than Thursday's figure of 2.5%, the figures show.

"As new cases climb across the country, in New York we are continuing our strategy of aggressively targeting micro-clusters whenever they pop up and implementing measures to stop any potential spread quickly," Cuomo said in a statement.

The state can be precise in identifying these problem areas because it has developed a large testing and contact tracing program, Cuomo said. The state's infection rate outside these hot spots stood at 1.13%, near where the rate has stood for weeks.

"The news from around the country is another reminder that while we have come a long way, this pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant: wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance and be New York Tough," Cuomo said. "The only way to beat this thing is through compliance of public health law and by taking care of one another."

The state had 11 deaths related to the virus Friday, including one in Nassau County. Hospitalizations rose by 22 to 1,045. The number of people in ICUs rose by eight to 231, the state figures showed.

On Long Island, Nassau County saw 161 new cases for a total of 49,203, and Suffolk saw 163 new cases for a total of 48,562.

"Nassau County continued our aggressive testing efforts with 10,153 tests given in the past 24 hours. Of those, 161 came back positive bringing today’s COVID-19 positivity rate to 1.6%," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Nassau’s 11 hospitals reported 70 COVID-19-related hospitalized patients with 24 in the ICU and 13 on ventilators — which has remained consistent in recent weeks, she said.

"These next few months will be challenging, with cold weather and pandemic fatigue setting in," Curran said. "To protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community, let’s keep doing what we know works. Wear your mask, whether you’re at an early voting site or the movies — both of which, I am happy to say are now open in Nassau."

In Suffolk, 1.7% of those tested were positive for COVID-19, county officials said.

A total of 36 people in Suffolk were hospitalized for virus-related illness, an increase of two.

Five patients were in the ICU, an increase of one, according to county figures. Six people were discharged.

As of Saturday, 251,938 New York City residents had tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with 19,311 dead from the virus and an additional 4,652 deaths suspected to be caused by the coronavirus, according to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

With Matthew Chayes

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