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COVID-19 infections appear to be slowing down, state statistics show

Lines of cars were seemingly endless at Eisenhower

Lines of cars were seemingly endless at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sunday, part of Nassau County's effort to hand out COVID-19 at-home testing kits this weekend. Newsday's Steve Langford reports. Credit: James Carbone

As the omicron variant continues to fuel the COVID-19 winter surge across New York, numbers released by the state on Sunday provide some evidence the wave could be slowing down.

For the first time since mid-December, state COVID-19 hospitalizations — which have steadily ticked up for weeks — decreased by almost 100 patients, to 11,747 on Saturday.

The daily percentage of new positive cases across the state showed a slight decline for the third day in a row, to 19.87%. The figure represents 79,777 new positive COVID-19 cases from 401,466 test results on Saturday.

Long Island’s seven-day percentage of positive cases, consistently the highest in the state, also decreased slightly, to 25.95% — from 26.46%.

"The good news is that the number of people hospitalized with COVID seems to be flattening out about now, as was expected," said Dr. David Battinelli, executive vice president and physician in chief at New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health.

Daily Positivity Rate

Nassau: 22.6% Suffolk: 25.8% Statewide: 19.87%

7-day Positivity Rate

Nassau: 25.3% Suffolk: 26.7% Statewide: 21.71%

Source: New York State Department of Health

Battinelli said the omicron trajectory in South Africa was a large spike, followed by a steep decline in cases. In the United States, the waves might play out at different times in various states.

New statistics released Sunday also show 58% of COVID-19 positive hospitalized patients were admitted due to the disease or complications from it. The remaining 42% were admitted into hospitals for other reasons, but tested positive for COVID.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said last week she has asked hospitals to break down their coronavirus admissions on a daily basis to better define the hospitalized population. The percentage of COVID-19 positive patients admitted for complications of the disease on Long Island was higher, at 63%.

Battinelli said everyone admitted to Northwell’s hospitals is tested for COVID-19. Even if the patient is not seriously ill with the disease, they require the use of more resources and capacity, including stays in isolation and personal protective equipment.

"The person who came in for the orthopedic procedure or the heart attack normally would not be subject to [these]," he said.

Nassau County accounted for 6,668 of the new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, and 6,796 were in Suffolk County.

The state recorded 138 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, including 11 in Nassau County and 13 in Suffolk County.

Federal health officials warned Sunday that death rates and hospitalizations could continue to climb because the omicron variant is so contagious.

"Given the volume of cases that we are seeing with omicron, we very well may see death rates rise dramatically," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on "Fox News Sunday."

Walensky said the majority of hospitalized patients, including children, are unvaccinated, and people who are vaccinated are contracting the coronavirus at a lower rate.

"If you're unvaccinated, you're 17 times more likely to be in the hospital and 20 times more likely to die than if you're boosted," she said.

Over the weekend, 160,000 at-home COVID-19 test kits were distributed to residents at Tobay Beach and Eisenhower Park, according to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

Positive cases among health care workers and other COVID-related issues continue to impact some facilities. After a temporary closure, a ProHEALTH Urgent Care facility at 257 West Park Ave. in Long Beach will be reopening with extended hours. It was not immediately clear how long the location was closed, but beginning Monday it would be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends.

No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are welcome, according to the ProHEALTH website.

With Rachelle Blidner and Vera Chinese

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What to know

The number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients in New York State decreased slightly on Saturday, to 11,747.

New figures from the state show 58% of COVID-19 hospitalized patients were admitted due to the disease or complications from it, while 42% were admitted for other reasons and tested positive during screening.

Federal health officials warned Sunday that death rates and hospitalizations could continue to climb because the omicron variant is so contagious.