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New Suffolk virus tracking system leads to reduction of 2,105 positive tests

State workers check in patients arriving for the

State workers check in patients arriving for the COVID-19 test at the drive-thru testing site at Stony Brook University on April 22. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Using a new state tracking system, Suffolk County officials released updated coronavirus case totals for each county community Wednesday for the first time since May 25.

The new system allowed Suffolk to weed out numerous inapplicable test results, officials said, causing a reduction of 2,105 in the cumulative tally of county infections assigned to communities since the pandemic began.

The Suffolk County executive’s office attributed the decline to removing from previous counts the results of tests for virus-killing antibodies that patients' immune systems develop after becoming infected.

"The reduction seen in cumulative numbers is a result of the new map being able to filter out positive antibody test results," said Derek Poppe, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone. "This is in line with how New York State reports their numbers and is the recognized best practice."

Because the new numbers do not match those previously used by the county, Newsday cannot immediately calculate how cases have increased on a daily or weekly basis in individual communities. Newsday maps that data online for Nassau communities and plans to resume doing so in Suffolk after the county releases a week’s worth of daily statistics.

Assuming there is no interruption in the data feed, the paper's online interactive map will not share Suffolk data for up to seven additional days, when it will become possible to provide a change in cases over one week.

Newsday’s charts will show the cumulative number of cases in Suffolk localities, along with the per capita rates of infection, in line with data received from the county.

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Separately, Nassau County on Wednesday stopped updating its community counts, citing difficulties with data it receives from the state.

"Reliable data from the state's new case-tracking system is not yet available,” said spokesman Michael Fricchione. “We anticipate getting new case data in the next day or two and will resume [community] updates as soon as possible.”

Newsday will next update Nassau data when the county resumes providing data.

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