NY COVID Rates Drop 'Significantly' To December Levels: Hochul

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NEW YORK, NY — For the first time in a month, New York's coronavirus rates have dropped back into the single digits, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday — a promising milestone in the struggle to contain the omicron variant.

The statewide positivity rate on Thursday was 9.75 percent, Hochul said — the first time since Dec. 20 that the figure has been below 10 percent.

"We've dropped significantly in the last couple weeks," Hochul said in a speech Friday morning at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.

The omicron wave peaked in New York on Jan. 2, when the state recorded a stunning 23 percent positivity rate. Since then, virus rates have visibly dropped — though deaths, which tend to lag behind positive cases, remain high, with 154 people losing their lives to the virus on Thursday, Hochul said.

New York state testing data shows the omicron variant's rise and subsequent fall in recent weeks. (NY DOH)
New York state testing data shows the omicron variant's rise and subsequent fall in recent weeks. (NY DOH)

Other local officials have expressed optimism about New York's recent virus trends. Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that "we are winning" — though he, too, said that hospitalizations and deaths could both continue to rise despite declining case numbers.

In recent days, the city's seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases has been well under 20,000, health commissioner Dave Chokshi noted Tuesday.

"That's less than half the peak of nearly 43,000 average new cases a day earlier in January," he said. "Similarly, we are starting to see a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations from a total of about 6,500 patients hospitalized citywide on Jan. 11 to about 5,800 as of Sunday, according to state data."

Vaccinations and boosters, despite a higher rate of so-called breakthrough infections, still appear to help avert severe illnesses, Chokshi said.

"And for that, I thank you because you also helped protect our hospitals and our health workers," he said. "Our most recent data show that unvaccinated people are over eight times more likely to be hospitalized compared to those who are vaccinated."

Matt Troutman contributed reporting.

This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch

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