State officials on Monday plan to release regulations for how deaths due to a respiratory illness will be tested for both COVID-19 and influenza, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said Sunday in a conference call.
The move comes ahead of the start of flu season, which could complicate the state's ability in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
"This will maintain the integrity of our data," Zucker said. "It will remove any reporting of presumed cases."
New York's death toll from COVID-19 stands at 25,327 people since the start of the pandemic.
Transmission of the virus, however, has slowed since the spring, and there have been more than three weeks of daily test results finding an infection rate of below 1 percent out of tens of thousands of tests.
But the concern is the flu season could make it more difficult to track the virus given the similarity of the symptoms. Zucker once again urged New Yorkers to get their flu shot if they can.
"I want to add that I urge everyone to get their flu shot unless there's a medical reason not to do so," he said. "Every year I urge people to get their flu shot and this year is no different, especially with the COVID-19 virus that's circulating the community."