New York City and the downstate area continue bearing the brunt of the state’s recent slight uptick in COVID-19 community levels, according to new data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday, 10 of the state’s 62 counties are now classified by the CDC as having “high” COVID-19 levels, up from seven a week ago. They include all New York City boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester, Orange and Putnam counties.
Like last week, there are a number of New York counties in the upper Hudson Valley, Capital Region, North Country and western Finger Lakes region that the CDC now says have “medium” levels.
The CDC uses a "high," "medium" and "low" classification, which is determined by the number of new cases in the county per 100,000 people in the past seven days; the number of new hospital admissions with COVID-19 in the past seven days per 100,000 people; and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19 within a seven-day average.
With a "high" level, the CDC recommends wearing masks in indoor public areas and on public transportation. There are currently no local mask requirements in the affected areas, outside of the statewide requirement for them in bus and train stations, prisons, state-regulated care settings and homeless shelters, though the New York City Department of Health last week recommended the use of “high-quality masks” in indoor public settings.
Nationwide, there are 1,143 counties the CDC said have “high” levels, up from 667 a week ago.
State data shows the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people has risen slightly in the last week. As of Thursday, it stood at 36.54, up from 28.3 last week. In recent months, New York health officials and those in other states have started using cases per 100,000 residents, and not the more traditional percentage of positive results of those who have been tested, as a more accurate way of measuring infection rates.
Hospitalizations have also slowly increased, but in most areas of the state, a majority of those patients are being hospitalized for reasons other than COVID-19.
Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed the rising numbers several times this week, reiterating that she does not anticipate any return to pandemic restrictions for the time being, though she says she reserves the right to implement them if deemed necessary.
"This is going to be more endemic," she said in Western New York on Monday. "People are getting used to living with it."