COVID-19 cases soar 170% in Suffolk in the past month, as hospitalizations more than double

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Suffolk County and statewide.

Daily confirmed cases in Suffolk, on a 7-day moving average, have climbed 170% in the past month. The percentage rate of positive tests has increased by over 108%.

New confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Suffolk reached 1,800 on December 15, the highest number since January.

Daily hospitalizations in Suffolk, on a 7-day moving average, also more than doubled and new daily admissions nearly tripled.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased statewide, surpassing 18,000 on Wednesday, the highest number since last January. Cases per 100,000 residents doubled statewide in the past month, from 28 to 56 per 100,000, and daily hospitalizations have increased 84%.

Health officials are not yet sure to what extent the recent increase in the state is linked to the omicron variant circulating in New York City.

The state health department yesterday reported 59 known cases of the omicron variant statewide as of December 15, including 14 in Suffolk County, where one of the first cases in New York City was reported on December 2.

Variants of the novel coronavirus are identified by genomic sequencing of the virus at several state-approved laboratories across the state. But only a small proportion of the total positive test results are actually sequenced, so the number of known cases “does not fully represent the total number of probable cases in the population,” the health department said. State.

Governor Kathy Hochul sounded the alarm bells at a press conference yesterday in Albany. A winter wave of coronavirus, like the one New York experienced last winter, is “upon us and … is in full force,” she said.

“And we’re in a tough race this winter season,” Hochul said.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has been found to be about twice as contagious as the highly contagious delta variant, which began to increase in New York City this summer and remains responsible for nearly 90% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the omicron variant was first confirmed in the United States on December 1 in California, it has spread to 39 states, as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

The CDC estimates that the omicron variant is now responsible for more than 13% of new COVID cases in the New York-New Jersey area.

The first indications are that the omicron causes less severe disease than the delta variant, state health commissioner Dr Mary Bassett said at yesterday’s press conference. But the less deadly, more contagious viruses are more likely to spread exponentially, Bassett said.

The health commissioner posted a graph (above) comparing the spread of delta to omicron over 10 “generations” of transmission. With delta, an infected person will infect two more and 10% of all infections will result in hospitalizations. With omicron, one infected person will infect four more. If only 1% of omicron infections result in hospitalizations, the total number of hospitalizations will skyrocket anyway due to the much higher number of infections – and could very easily overwhelm New York’s hospital systems, Bassett said. .

With an infection ratio of 1: 2, one case will result in a total of 2,047 infections and 205 hospitalizations over 10 generations.

With an infection ratio of 1: 4, one case will result in 1,398,101 new cases and 13,981 new hospital admissions over 10 generations.

“We are in the middle of a Delta wave. We have Omicron behind the scenes, ”Bassett said. “And we also can’t forget that with winter comes the seasonal flu,” she said.

“People underestimate the power of the omicron because they say, well, people don’t really get sick, they’re not in hospitals,” Hochul said. “Look at the percentages she just showed us based on this graph. You might only have 1% of infected people hospitalized versus 10% delta, but if you have a million more people infected because it’s spreading much faster, that means you’ll have hospitals overflowing in this pace, ”she said.

The governor has defended his indoor mask tenure, amid a growing number of Republican county leaders saying their county health departments will not enforce it. When Hochul announced the mask’s mandate for indoor public spaces last week, she said it would be up to county health departments to enforce it. New Nassau County leader Republican Bruce Blakeman, who ousted Democratic incumbent Laura Curran, was the first to say that Nassau County would not enforce the mask rule. At least another dozen Republican-controlled counties have followed suit.

Hochul called it yesterday the “least intrusive” measure that can be taken to help stop the spread of the virus and, along with the vaccination, a necessary step to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and additional restrictions.

The masks are effective in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, according to scientific studies done since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Compelling data now shows that wearing community masks is an effective non-pharmacological intervention to reduce the spread of this infection, especially as a source control to prevent the spread of infected people, but also as a protection to reduce exposure. carriers to infection, ”wrote the authors of “A Review of the Evidence of Face Masks Against COVID-19” in a National Academy of Sciences journal in January 2021.

But masks remain a controversial subject nonetheless.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who enjoys broad support from Republican Party leaders statewide in his bid to secure the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination next year, sharply criticized the new mask mandate, because it has the school mask mandate and mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers and others.

He took part in anti-mask rallies and held a press conference in Westchester this week where businesses and local officials called on County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, to also refuse to enforce the rule of indoor mask, which they said was hurting local businesses.

Suffolk County Director Steve Bellone has remained silent on whether the county health department will enforce the mask warrant. Its communications director did not respond to email requests for comment on the matter. The Suffolk County Health Department also did not respond to an email request for comment.

In a statement via a spokesperson yesterday, Zeldin accused Hochul – along with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – of “using the ‘omicron variant’ to sow fear among New Yorkers.”

When asked what policies and measures he would implement if he were a governor trying to deal with the current wave, Zeldin said in the statement that the priority should be “access to vaccines, to treatments and tests, and to invest in research and development for new ideas to fight this virus.

“People can certainly wear masks if they wish,” Zeldin said, but said it was “unreasonable and downright wrong” to “ask small business owners and their employees, who always have to struggling to recover from the excessive foreclosure of state policies, to uphold the mandate.

He said the government should do more to “recognize natural immunity” and recognize that the risks of COVID in “healthy young children” are “very different” from the risks for older people with co-morbidities.

“Politics should follow science instead of science following politics,” Zeldin said.

This is precisely the argument made by Hochul to defend the indoor mask mandate and other state policies on COVID-19, including urging people to get vaccinated and boosted. Yesterday the governor called it “common sense”.

She responded to complaints from critics – including the Congressman from the First District – who denounce the warrant’s violation of personal liberty.

“People have the right to stay alive and the people you touch also have the right to live,” Hochul said yesterday. “And that’s something we should all remember.”

By the Numbers: COVID in Suffolk County

New cases, tests and positive rate percentages:

7-day average on November 14: 406 new cases, 10,901 tests, 3.4% positive

7-day average as of December 14: 1,099 new cases, 1,457 tests, 7.7% percent positive

Daily hospitalizations and new admissions:

7-day average as of November 14: 118 daily hospitalizations, 14 new daily admissions

7-day average as of December 14: 268 daily hospitalizations, 40 new daily admissions

In Riverhead, the daily number of new confirmed cases topped 20 yesterday for the first time since last spring, according to data released by Suffolk County. The county does not provide test counts or percent positive rates for individual cities.

Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO Amy Loeb said yesterday that the hospital saw a slight increase in the number of patients with COVID-19. PBMC had reported single-digit COVID cases. Yesterday morning there were 17 hospital patients with COVID-19, Loeb said. However, as of December 16, 2020, there were 37 COVID patients in the hospital.

See more COVID-19 coverage

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