The number of confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 has hit close to 600 on Long Island for the second time this week, statewide hospitalizations reached nearly 1,000, and positivity levels rose again — fueled by the spread of the delta variant, state figures released Thursday show.
At the same time, the state launched a new program to help residents travel overseas.
Nassau County registered 297 cases in test results from Wednesday, while Suffolk County had 301, for a total of 598. In test results from Monday, Long Island registered 624 cases.
As recently as June, the daily figure was well below 100. But the highly contagious delta variant is spreading rapidly, many people remain unvaccinated, and many mandates such as mask wearing and social distancing have been lifted.
Other COVID-19 indicators also continued to trend higher.
The three-day average of positivity in testing for the virus increased over the last three days on Long Island from 3.24% to 3.35% to 3.37%, according to state data released Thursday. The average was 0.35% on June 29.
The statewide average went from 2.65% to 2.70% to 2.74%.
The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state grew by 76, to a total of 978.
Across the state, five people died on Wednesday of causes linked to the virus, with one death each in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“As we see the Delta variant continue to spread, primarily among unvaccinated individuals, it is now more important than ever that those who remain unvaccinated get their shot,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
“If you haven’t already, get your vaccine today so that you can protect yourself, your loved ones and your communities against COVID and we can defeat this virus once and for all.”
With cases rising and new vaccinations slowing, officials are implementing some new measures to try to curb the spread of the virus. They include requiring patrons of indoor dining, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues in New York City to be vaccinated.
Despite the rise in case numbers, New York State is launching an “Excelsior Pass Plus” program that will help expedite people’s travel overseas to such destinations as Greece, France, Spain, Italy, and the Bahamas.
The program, which builds on the state’s Excelsior Pass program, also will ease travel through indirect flights to El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, and Puerto Rico.
Cuomo said the list would continue to grow as partnerships with more countries develop.
It also will apply to hundreds of businesses and locations that require proof of vaccination, as well as when traveling to entities where SMART Health Cards are accepted, he said.
“Excelsior Pass has enabled New Yorkers to get back to the people and things they love, helping drive our economic recovery in the process,” Cuomo said.
“Excelsior Pass Plus will advance this even further, and is part of our broad commitment to securely take our vaccination verification efforts to the next level,” he said.
The Plus program essentially makes New York State’s Excelsior Pass platform compatible with the “highly secure, globally recognized” SMART Health Cards Framework, Cuomo said.
The Excelsior program has generated 3 million passes and provides digital proof of vaccination or negative test results, he said.
The Plus program includes a “first-in-the-nation partnership with VeriFLY,” he added.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday credited the announcement of looming vaccine mandates with boosting the number of people getting COVID-19 shots in the city, where the rate had slowed since the vaccines debuted.
“Clearly something’s working. The message is getting through,” he said at his daily coronavirus briefing.
This week 80,000 first doses were administered compared to 57,000 in the first week of July, he said. The number of doses ordered by providers is also up — 40,000 last week, and 90,000 this week. He said the number of vaccination of health and hospital workers — de Blasio imposed a mandate beginning this month for vaccination or testing for this group in public health care settings — being vaccinated was also up — 189%.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
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