Coronavirus cases surge 11.6% in New York

Mike Stucka
Nurses help each other put on their personal protective equipment before entering a patient's room in the COVID-19 unit in the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System in Salinas, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

New coronavirus cases leaped in New York in the week ending Saturday, rising 11.6% as 68,841 cases were reported. The previous week had 61,687 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New York ranked No. 41 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,480,981 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 10.8% from the week before. Across the country, 31 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Within New York, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Oneida, Richmond and Monroe counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Suffolk County, with 7,288 cases; Queens County, with 6,865 cases; and Kings County, with 6,633. Weekly case counts rose in 45 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Queens, Suffolk and Kings counties.

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The share of New York test results that came back positive was 5% in the latest week, compared with 4.8% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 1,368,183 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 1,273,658. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Across New York, cases fell in 17 counties, with the best declines in Erie, Oswego and Broome counties.

In the state, 541 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 386 people died.

A total of 764,966 people in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 35,441 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 16,062,299 people have tested positive and 297,818 people have died.