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Seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate on LI tops 4% for first time since mid-September

A booster shot is administered at Stony Brook

A booster shot is administered at Stony Brook University on Nov. 17. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

The seven-day average of new positive COVID-19 cases on Long Island topped 4% for the first time in more than two months, according to state statistics released Sunday, as health experts warned New Yorkers to take precautions during the Thanksgiving holiday.

That seven-day average of new cases on Long Island was 4.16% on Saturday.

Statewide on Saturday, there were 6,857 new positive cases reported out of 191,142 tests results.

Long Island accounted for 996 of those new cases with 410 in Nassau County and 586 in Suffolk County. There were 31 deaths attributed to COVID-19 statewide on Saturday, including one in Nassau County.

The seven-day average of cases has remained under 4% since Sept. 15, according to the state. Less than two weeks ago, on Nov. 11, it was under 3%.

"We are on an uptick and it is a concern," said Dr. David Hirschwerk, an infectious disease expert at Northwell Health. "Even though we have a fairly high portion of people vaccinated, the delta variant is very contagious."

Hirschwerk added that many people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are more than six months past their final shot and might not have received a booster shot to further protect them against the disease.

"Because we know people intend to congregate for the holidays, it does set up a situation where it could drive infections even higher," he said.

Hirschwerk said there are steps people can take to stay safe during the holiday season, such as avoiding gatherings if you are sick, having people tested for COVID-19 in advance and ventilating indoor spaces.

Health experts across the country have urged people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to get the shots and for fully vaccinated people who are eligible to get booster shots, especially if they want to celebrate the holidays with friends and family.

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the eligibility for booster shots to all adults who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago. Those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine were previously eligible for a booster at least two months after the shot, under CDC guidance issued in October.

"If you’re vaccinated, and hopefully you’ll be boosted too, and your family is, you can enjoy a typical Thanksgiving meal, Thanksgiving holiday with your family, there’s no reason not to do that," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief White House medical adviser, said Sunday during an appearance on ABC’s "This Week."

"The thing we are concerned about is the people who are not vaccinated, because what they’re doing is they’re the major source of the dynamics of the infection in the community, and the higher the level of dynamics of infection, the more everyone is at risk," he added.

Fauci, who is also director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said he hoped COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will increase the durability of the vaccines "so that you will not necessarily need it every six months or a year."

"We would hope, and this is something that we’re looking at very carefully, that that third shot with the mRNA, not only boosts you way up, but increases the durability so that you will not necessarily need it every six months or a year," Fauci said, referring to the two-dose vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. "We’re hoping it pushes it out more."

Fauci, appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union" urged parents to get children ages 5 and older vaccinated, noting that if they receive their first dose in the coming days, "they will be fully vaccinated by the time we get to the Christmas holiday."

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CORRECTION: Statewide, there were 6,857 new positive cases reported out of 191,142 test results on Saturday, according to statistics released Sunday. Those numbers were incorrectly described in an earlier version of this story.