More than 20 percent of New York City residents tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in a study launched by Governor Cuomo which, if accurate, means as many as 1.7million people have been infected in the city – and that the mortality rate is between 0.6 and 0.8 percent, far greater than the 0.1 percent mortality rate of the flu.
The study took samples from 3,000 randomly selected people across the state who were chosen at grocery stores and had their blood taken via a finger-prick test that the state’s health department made.
It remains unknown how accurate it is. While private companies have given exact percentages for how accurate their own tests are, when questioned about their test, the NY health department, said only that theirs was ‘very accurate’.
Statewide, the virus prevalence was 13.9 percent but it was far higher in New York City, where 21.2 percent tested positive. New York City, which has a population of 8.4million, has recorded 9,944 confirmed coronavirus deaths and there are another 5,052 presumed deaths from the disease.
There are currently more than 138,000 confirmed cases of the virus in New York City which means that, by the study’s percentage, only eight percent of the people who actually had the virus have tested positive for it.
If the infection rate from the study is accurate, when combining the confirmed deaths and presumed deaths, it means the fatality rate is 0.8 percent. When counting confirmed deaths alone, the fatality rate drops to 0.6 percent.
That makes it far more deadly than the flu – which has a fatality rate of 0.1 percent – and coronavirus has proven to be far more contagious.
Oxiris Balbot, the New York City health commissioner, said on Thursday that she estimates up to one million New Yorkers might have been infected.
However, there are a number of deaths that are yet to be counted because they happened in people’s homes and not in hospitals or nursing homes.
Cuomo announced the study results on Thursday
The results varied geographically. In upstate New York, only three percent tested positive for the antibodies.
Long Island saw 16.7 percent antibody detection rate and Westchester had an infection rate of 11 percent.
Eight percent were aged between 18 and 24, 16 percent were between the ages of 45 and 54 and 13 percent were 75 and older.
The results were disproportionately high among African Americans and Latinos, who accounted for 20 percent of the results each, whereas 9.1 percent were White and 11.7 percent were Asian.
Cuomo said the testing will continue and will inform his regional reopening plan but he did not offer up any clarification of what comes next.
‘We have preliminary data, we’re going to continue this testing on a rolling basis, but I want to see snapshots of what is happening with that rate.
‘Is it flat? Is it going down? It can give us data,’ he said.
Hospitalizations continue to decline but not quickly enough, he said.
The number of new deaths on Wednesday was 438, which is less than earlier this week.
Cuomo added that data out of California, where the first confirmed COVID-19 death was on February 6 and not February 29 as previously thought, was worrying.
He said that California had ‘connected’ deaths to COVID as far back as December and January. There has not been a confirmed case that far back.
‘The hospitalization rate is down again so that is good news, if you project the curve. It continues to go down and that’s also in the total hospitalization number.
‘The number of new COVID cases being diagnosed is relatively flat, that’s not great news, we’d like to see that going down.
‘Lives lost is still 438. That number is not coming down as fast as we would like to see it coming down.
‘What we’re looking at, at this point, is we’re on the downside. Do they continue to trend down or do they pop back up?
‘If they continue to trend down, how fast is the decline and how low will the decline go. Thirteen hundred people keep walking in the door…we want to see that reduced. If you look at the number of incoming cases, its been remarkably flat for the past several days.
‘That’s the best indicator of how containment is working. Over the past few days, we’ve flattened it. We’d like to see those new cases reducing even more and faster,’ he said.
The CDC recommends that new infection rate has to be declining for two consecutive weeks before reopening is an option. New York’s lockdown is in place until May 15.