New York State marked its 35th straight day of coronavirus infection levels below 1% on Friday, though the largest health care system on Long Island said it is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.
Out of 89,722 test results reported on Thursday, 880, or 0.98%, were confirmed positive, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. The level of new positives on Long Island was 1.3%, after it had risen to 1.8% on Tuesday.
"New York's ability to beat back COVID-19 and slow the spread depends on what we do. That's why it's so important to wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands, and why local governments are critical partners in enforcing state guidance," Cuomo said in a statement.
"When informed citizens stay safe and play by the rules, 35 straight days with an infection rate below 1% is what you get. Now we have to stay New York Tough and maintain a vigilant attitude so we don't go back to the hell we experienced."
Five people died of coronavirus-related causes on Thursday in the state. The number of confirmed new cases that day surpassed 100 in Nassau County, hitting 105, while there were 71 new confirmed cases in Suffolk County and 269 in New York City, where the infection level was 0.7%.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government's leading infectious disease expert, told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Friday that the country may not get back to normal until mid- to late-2021.
“I believe that we will have a vaccine that will be available by the end of this year, the beginning of next year,” Fauci said.
But, he added, the vaccine probably will not be administered to a majority of the population until “the mid or end of 2021 … If you’re talking about getting back to a degree of normality, which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it’s going to be well into 2021, maybe even toward the end of 2021.”
More patients in region's hospitals
Northwell Health, the state's largest health care system, said Friday it had 96 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates, up from 68 the same period a week ago. It marked an increase after months of decline since the pandemic's height in April, when the system had about 3,400 COVID-19 patients.
“My guess is we may develop an oscillating pattern that becomes a slow burn, but I don’t know if this is statistically important yet,” said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell.
Battinelli added that the increase would have little to do with schools reopening this week, because it's too early to see any impact reflected.
“There is a chance it has to do with Labor Day weekend, and the continued concern that people will let up on the behaviors necessary, like mask-wearing and social distancing,” he said.
North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset had the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the Northwell system, with 20, followed by New Hyde Park-based Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which had 14.
Northwell also reported a death related to COVID-19 since Monday.
Separately, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which operates six hospitals in the region, said it had a decrease in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. CHS had 17 on Friday, down from 28 the same period a week ago.
Cuomo has said New York has gone from "worst to first" in the nation regarding the battle against the coronavirus, since the state initially was the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, but now has among the lowest infection rates.
In contrast to other states, New York is permitting in-person instruction in schools starting mostly this week, and Cuomo announced this week that indoor dining will resume in New York City on Sept. 30, albeit at 25% capacity.
Cuomo and other state officials said this week that a recent increase in cases on Long Island could be a "blip" tied to students at SUNY Oneonta who are from Long Island. The college recently sent home all students after an outbreak of more than 650 cases.
State Liquor Authority agents and State Police inspected 1,380 establishments in New York City and Long Island on Thursday, and issued summonses to seven of them that were not in compliance with state requirements on social distancing, mask wearing and other mandates, Cuomo said. Five were in Suffolk, and one in Nassau.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide since the pandemic began was more than 28 million on Friday, with 6.4 million in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the most cases of any country in the world, though the next-closest countries, India and Brazil, are adding new positives rapidly.
The United States also leads the world in the number of deaths linked to COVID-19, with about 192,500 out of a global total of more than 911,000.