"That is a beautiful sight — down from 90,000 cases...

"That is a beautiful sight — down from 90,000 cases just earlier this month, and now down to 12,000 cases ...," Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday about COVID-19 data. Credit: Barry Sloan

COVID-19 cases statewide have plummeted 86% in the past three weeks, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday, as the omicron wave continues to subside.

"That is a beautiful sight — down from 90,000 cases just earlier this month, and now down to 12,000 cases, which once again a few months ago we would have thought was incredibly high …," Hochul said during a winter storm briefing in Manhattan. "We are absolutely trending in the place we’ve wanted to get to for so long."

There were 12,332 new cases statewide on Friday, according to state Department of Health data. On Long Island, 1,384 people tested positive.

Dr. Lance Becker, chairman of emergency medicine for Northwell Health, said, "More likely than not, we’ll continue to see these numbers come down, hopefully for an extended period of time. And hopefully it will provide us a little opportunity in, I predict, maybe two to four weeks where we could take a little breath from the marathon we’ve all been running."

The rapid rise in omicron cases, followed by the current sharp decline, "is the pattern that this particular omicron variant has shown in other nations and other communities," he said.

The seven-day average of the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus on Long Island fell to 8.68% on Friday, down from 9.3% on Thursday and nearly 27% on Jan. 5.

"And our hospitalizations have dropped about 39% in just two and a half weeks," Hochul said.

There were 1,221 people in Long Island hospitals on Friday, a drop of more than 1,000 from the winter peak of 2,254 on Jan. 11.

But, in a reminder of the continuing toll of the pandemic, 125 New Yorkers died of COVID-19-related causes on Friday, including 12 Nassau and 11 Suffolk residents.

"Put that in perspective: Just a couple months ago we were talking about — there were still people passing away because of the pandemic, but it was 22, 24, 25" people a day, the governor said.

Death numbers decline after case and hospitalization numbers fall.

"This eventually will go in the same direction as the cases and hospitalizations," Hochul said. "But there are still a lot of people sick in the hospitals, and we want to keep all of the people, and the family members of those we’ve lost, in our prayers."

Becker said unvaccinated people have far higher rates of death and serious illness.

"The data shows very powerfully, and very simply, that the vaccine will save your life," he said. "And if you’re unvaccinated, your likelihood of dying is astronomical compared to someone who is vaccinated."

Nationwide, unvaccinated adults are 68 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated adults with booster shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are 15 times more likely to die than fully vaccinated adults who have two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but not a booster shot, according to the CDC.

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