Schools are safe, but living rooms less so during the pandemic. 

The vast majority of coronavirus cases in New York are spread by contact in living rooms and social gatherings, according to contact tracing data released on Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

The data made public by New York officials offers one of the more specific glimpses into how COVID-19 is transmitted in the state.

Nearly 74% of cases in New York are the result of transmission in households or social gatherings, a metric Cuomo has warned about in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Health officials, including the nation's leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned of a surge within a surge of COVID-19 cases due to gatherings at Thanksgiving and later at Christmas. 

Elementary and high school students, meanwhile, represent less than .50% of the cases, underscoring the relative safety of attending school during the pandemic.

New York has had more than 700,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed overall since the pandemic began in March and contact tracing has been a challenge amid a widespread outbreak. 


The data Cuomo unveiled represents about 46,000 data points, Cuomo said, out of the roughly 210,000 positive cases confirmed since September. 

State officials were confident enough in the data to make changes to restrictions put in place for gyms and personal care businesses like barbers and nail salons during the pandemic in order to limit the spread. 

Gyms and salons both will be allowed to operate in orange zones where hospitalizations have increased with reduced capacity.

Both kinds of gathering places have represented less than a full percentage point of cases. 

Gym owners already on Friday were breathing a sigh of relief as the industry has feared the impact of another shutdown amid the second surge of COVID cases this year. 

“The fitness industry is vital to maintaining the physical and mental health of New Yorkers,” said Bill Lia, the chairman of New York State Fitness Alliance. “Fitness centers have proven that by following strict protocols, including mask wearing at all times, New Yorkers can work out without contributing significantly to the spread of the virus. Todays’ announcement by the Governor and the contact tracing data demonstrates the fitness industry in NY is among the safest industries. Allowing gyms and fitness centers to remain open in “orange zones” will allow these facilities to advance their members health while following strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue.”