NYS has conducted 12M COVID-19 tests, allowing clusters to be targeted

ALBANY COUNTY — For the first time since Sept. 24, New York State’s overall percentage of positive test results for COVID-19 dropped below 1 percent, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.

That has been the state’s target. The statewide rate, based on Saturday’s test results, was 0.96 percent.

This includes the “red zone” areas of coronavirus clusters — primarily in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City and in Orange and Rockland counties — where the rate was 5.74 percent of test results reported on Saturday and 6.13 percent for the past week.

Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative sets up strict rules for red zones, with less stringent rules for surrounding orange and yellow areas.

Cuomo noted that the red-zone areas are home to less than 3 percent of the state’s population yet have had over 17 percent of all positive cases reported this week.

The Capital Region, of which Abany County is a part, had a positivity rate of 0.6 percent, based on Saturday’s test results.

Four of the state’s 10 regions had rates of 1 percent or higher: Long Island, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Western New York. Two regions were tied for the state’s lowest rat — 0.2 percent: the Mohawk Valley and the North Country.

In a conference call with the press on Sunday, Cuomo praised New York’s approach of frequent testing; the state has conducted 12 million COVID-19 tests so far. He said the large number of tests allows the state to attack specific clusters.

“A rifle is more targeted than a shotgun, right?” said Cuomo. “Other states see the statewide number increase, and then they have to do statewide closings because they can’t target the clusters.”

Cuomo again stressed the importance of enforcement. He spoke of the success of a task force made up of the State Liquor Authority and the State Police, which has conducted 100,000 compliance checks on bars and restaurants.

“What do you do about clusters?” Cuomo asked on Sunday’s call, answering himself, “You do enforcement. You do aggressive enforcement. That’s what you do.”

He went on, “You don’t enforce a law, the law is useless. It accomplishes nothing. It actually accomplishes a negative. The negative is: People see that law isn't enforced, they dismiss the law.”

Cuomo also said, “The hotspot clusters, as you know, are primarily in the Hassidic community …. I understand the desire to hold large religious ceremonies. I understand that. I understand how important it is to their culture and to their religion. I also understand that it, as a matter of fact, jeopardizes human life.”

He concluded, “I say to my friends in the Hassidic community, the Hebrew faith teaches us pikuach nefesh which means, save a life. Under the Hebrew teachings, participation in a religious ceremony can be excused for matters of health and life and safety. Leviticus: Love your neighbors, yourself, and the point here is to save a life and not to endanger others, not to endanger others in the same congregation, not to endanger others in the same community, and that’s what is happening with these large congregations.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. I wish it didn’t happen but it is the reality. I wish none of this happened. I wish COVID didn’t happen but that is the reality and you deal with reality, especially when it’s about life and death.”


Newest numbers

As of Sunday morning, 3,181 Albany County residents have had confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a release from the county executive’s office.

Sixteen new cases were announced on Sunday morning, two of them associated with the University at Albany.

Of the new cases, 11 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, one is a healthcare worker or resident of a congregate setting, and four did not have a clear source of transmission detected at this time.

Albany County currently has 967 residents under quarantine, down from 1,000 on Saturday. The five-day average for new daily positives increased slightly to 20.6 from 20.4.

There are now 110 active cases in the county, down from 112 on Saturday. So far, 13,678 people have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,071 had tested positive and recovered. 

There were no new hospitalizations overnight. Six county residents remain hospitalized with COVID-19; one of them is in an intensive-care unit. The county’s hospitalization rate has decreased to 0.18 percent.

Albany County’s death toll from coronavirus disease 2019 remains at 136.

More Regional News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.