COVID-19 cases surge 15% in New York

Mike Stucka
Friends Terri Kado, 66, (right) and Patty Tubbs, 68, from Fort Myers Beach, Florida, wait in line for a COVID-19 vaccine in the early morning hours of Dec. 30 at Lakes Park Regional Library in Fort Myers. They got in line at midnight. The two were having a pleasant experience and were watching the moon as it moved through the sky. To them the vaccine brings a peace of mind and a positive start to the New Year.

New coronavirus cases leaped in New York in the week ending Saturday, rising 15% as 87,651 cases were reported. The previous week had 76,236 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New York ranked No. 19 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 1,435,654 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 8.2% from the week before. Across the country, 35 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Within New York, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Oneida, Herkimer and Cayuga counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Suffolk County, with 10,460 cases; Nassau County, with 8,636 cases; and Queens County, with 8,573. Weekly case counts rose in 50 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties.

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The share of New York test results that came back positive was 7.6% in the latest week, compared with 5.5% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 1,208,564 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 1,377,288. 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 11 counties, with the best declines in New York, Fulton and Livingston counties.

In New York, 987 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 968 people were reported dead.

A total of 1,011,665 people in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 38,273 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 20,427,780 people have tested positive and 350,186 people have died.