COVID-19 cases increasing in New York

Mike Stucka
Alexa Zarlengo, R.N., receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Debbie Mahoney, R.N., at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

New coronavirus cases increased in 6.5% in New York in the latest week ending Saturday as the state added 73,306 cases. The previous week had 68,832 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New York ranked No. 35 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 1,512,372 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 1.3% from the week before. Across the country, 17 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 Genesee, Oneida and Monroe counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Suffolk County, with 7,708 cases; Queens County, with 7,607 cases; and Kings County, with 7,251. Weekly case counts rose in 42 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Queens, Kings and Nassau counties.

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The share of New York test results that came back positive was 5.4% in the latest week, compared with 5% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 1,363,862 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 1,368,183. 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 20 counties, with the best declines in Erie, Richmond and Westchester counties.

In New York, 814 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 565 people were reported dead.

A total of 838,085 people in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 36,318 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 17,655,591 people have tested positive and 316,159 people have died.