Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday that positive COVID-19 cases have dropped sharply...

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday that positive COVID-19 cases have dropped sharply statewide. Credit: Office of the Governor / Mike Groll

The number of new COVID-19 cases across New York has declined sharply, with the percentage of new positive tests less than 13%, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday.

Hochul, who was at a storm briefing in Albany, said almost 400,000 New Yorkers were tested for COVID-19 on Saturday and 51,264 — or 12.90% — were positive for COVID-19.

"That is a dramatic improvement over our statewide average, just a couple weeks ago of 23%," she said. "So what a decline we've seen."

What to know 

  • New COVID-19 cases across New York have declined sharply, with the percentage of new positive tests less than 13%, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday.
  • Hospitalizations and cases are dropping in New York City and Long Island, but they remain high upstate, she said.
  • A national peak isn't coming soon, even though parts of the northeast U.S. are seeing a plateau in COVID-19 cases, health officials say.

But while COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases in New York City and Long Island are dropping, they remain high upstate, according to the governor.

"The lagging indicator will be the hospitalizations and sadly more people dying in a couple of days, weeks, but overall … the prognosis, the forecast for COVID is much brighter than it had been before and that is very positive news," she said.

Nassau County accounted for 2,742 of the new cases and Suffolk for 2,915 of the new cases recorded from Saturday.

The seven-day percentage of new positive cases — generally seen as a more reliable statistic than the daily percentage — was 16.37% for the state and 19.29% for Long Island,

Daily Positivity Rate

Nassau: 14.1%

Suffolk: 16.0% 

Statewide: 12.90%

7-day Positivity Rate

Nassau: 18.6%

Suffolk: 20.1% 

Statewide: 16.37%

Source: New York State Department of Health

The Western and Central regions of New York had the highest seven-day rates with, respectively, 21.46% and 20.57%. Long Island, which had the highest rate for a period of time, was third as of Saturday.

As new variants develop, caseloads rise and fall, with omicron's rise being especially rapid due to its contagious nature, experts say. Federal health officials have said while parts of the northeast U.S. are seeing a plateau in COVID-19 cases, a national peak isn't coming anytime soon.

"The entire country is not moving at the same pace," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Sunday during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."The omicron wave started later in other parts of the country. So we shouldn't expect a national peak in the next coming days. The next few weeks will be tough."

On Sunday, Hochul encouraged all New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

"Be prepared for weather, be prepared for COVID," she said. "It means getting vaccinated, getting boosted, getting tested. It means, staying home, if you're not feeling good. Our goal is to protect the health of New Yorkers, protect the health of our economy, and also make sure that our children continue in schools."

Murthy also lamented the recent Supreme Court order blocking the Biden administration push to require employees at large workplaces to be vaccinated or test weekly and wear a mask. Murthy said the order was a "setback for public health," during an appearance on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

The court order, handed down Thursday, did allow the administration to proceed with a vaccine requirement for most health care workers.

"What these requirements ultimately are helpful for is not just protecting the community at large but making our workplaces safer for workers as well as for customers," Murthy told Martha Raddatz on "This Week."

He noted that workplaces can still institute those requirements voluntarily and encouraged employers to do so.

Asked by Raddatz why testing access wasn’t increased before the current omicron surge hit, Murthy said there was an eightfold rise in testing from January 2021 to December.

A federal website allowing Americans to order up to four free coronavirus tests per household, COVIDtests.gov, will go live this week as the public continues to face long lines for testing and low inventory for at-home tests.

"The challenge was that omicron created an extraordinary increase in demand…," Murthy said. "Even beyond the incredible increase in supply that we had procured and secured during 2021."

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