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Numbers of COVID-19 cases on Long Island, in state continue to edge up

Health care professionals test for COVID-19 at a

Health care professionals test for COVID-19 at a site in Jericho last year.   Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases on Long Island and across the state continue to tick up as officials urge unvaccinated people to get inoculated against the potentially deadly disease.

Long Island had the second-highest seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests in the state at 2.23% on Saturday, according to figures released by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office Sunday, exceeded by the Capital Region at 2.44%.

The statewide seven-day average is 1.76%.

"COVID-19 continues to spread in New York State and new variants are cause for concern," Cuomo said in a statement. "So it’s absolutely vital that every New Yorker who hasn’t gotten vaccinated yet does so immediately."

Overall, 1,982 positive COVID-19 test results were reported to the state Saturday, including 220 in Nassau County and 159 in Suffolk County. Long Island’s seven-day average of positive tests had remained under 2% since April 30 before hitting that mark again on July 22.

Seven deaths across the state on Saturday were attributed to COVID-19, state figures show. None was on Long Island.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 35% of counties in the nation have high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 and cases are on the rise in nearly 90% of jurisdictions.

Experts have pointed to several reasons for the increasing number of COVID-19 cases: relaxed pandemic rules such as mask mandates, reopening of camps and other summer activities and the continued domination of the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease.

"We would not be seeing this problem if we had high levels of vaccinations," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of the department of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital. "It really is critical. The more people get vaccinated, the less likely these strains will spread."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said the majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people, during an interview on CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday.

"Since we have 50% of the country is not fully vaccinated, that’s a problem, particularly when you have a variant like delta which has this extraordinary characteristic of being able to spread very efficiently and very easily from person to person," said Fauci, who is also director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

According to the state, 59.9% of all New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose. Statistics show 68.2% of all Nassau County residents have received at least one dose and 61.7% of all Suffolk County residents have received at least one dose.

The numbers are higher when looking at the percentage of adults 18 and over receiving one dose with Nassau County at 81.7% and Suffolk County at 74.5%.

Nassau has the highest vaccination rate of any large county in the state.

But the vaccination rates of young people between the ages of 12 and 15 remain low across the state and on Long Island, with 44.9% receiving one dose in Nassau County and 31.7% in Suffolk.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Northwell Health are hosting a vaccination site at Kennedy Park in Hempstead from Tuesday to Saturday in an effort to vaccinate more young people before the start of school.

"We must do all we can to keep schools fully open — with districts and parents making the decision about the appropriate safety precautions," Curran said in a statement. "I’m proud of Nassau’s leading vaccination rate, and I’m confident we can keep building on our progress."

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