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LI's COVID-19 cases drop to lowest level in nearly two months

The number of new Long Island COVID-19 cases on Saturday dipped below 1,000 for the first time since early December, before the omicron wave sent case, hospitalization and death numbers soaring.

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The 944 positive test results were the lowest amount since Dec. 5, when there were 898, state health department data shows.

The single-day positivity rate on Long Island on Saturday also was the lowest since that date: 5.82%.

“Barring any surprises, we expect the rates will continue to go down,” said Dr. David Hirschwerk, medical director of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. “There still is a fair amount of transmission, but it appears that each day there’s less and less.”

Experts usually focus on the seven-day positivity rate, because it smooths out anomalies. That rate for Long Island also continued to fall, to 8.24%, down from 8.68% on Friday and nearly 27% on Jan. 5.

The rate remains far higher than in the late spring and early summer, when it was under 1%.

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Nassau: 5.9%

Suffolk: 5.8%

Statewide: 5.06%


Nassau: 7.9%

Suffolk: 8.6%

Statewide: 6.92%   

Source: New York State Department of Health

Hospitalizations also continued to decline. On Long Island, there were 1,116 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday, compared with 1,221 on Friday and a winter peak of 2,254 on Jan. 11.

Another 124 New Yorkers died of COVID-19 on Saturday, including 14 residents of Suffolk County and eight Nassau residents.

Amid the declining numbers, New York City Mayor Eric Adams Sunday said the city is looking “every day” at the future of the city’s vaccine mandates.

Asked during a COVID-19 briefing whether, if numbers fall further, he would consider dropping the mandates, Adams — flanked by top city health officials — said: “Based on the doctors that are here, they’re going to make that determination.”

But, he added, he also is consulting with economic advisers “to have that right balance. It can’t just be one way or the other. … If we don’t get the city up and operating, that brings about some negative impacts as well.”

New York City requires proof of vaccination for indoor dining, bars, movie theaters, gyms and other indoor venues. The city also requires vaccination for all public and private employees who perform in-person work.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday urged vaccinated New Yorkers to patronize restaurants, Broadway shows and other businesses.

“If you’re vaccinated and boosted and masked up, there’s no reason not to get out there,” she said on NY1. “Our businesses really, really need the help.”

Hirschwerk said people should weigh their tolerance for risk in deciding on activities.

“Certainly right now is safer to start to do more things compared with two to four weeks ago, and probably things two to four weeks from now will be even safer than they are right now,” he said.

At Sunday’s briefing, Adams announced a milestone: 75% of city residents are now fully vaccinated, which means at least two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and one of the Johnson & Johnson.

New York City is far above the 63.8% national rate, according to federal data, and slightly above the statewide 74% rate.

Nassau’s rate is 80.1%, according to state data. Suffolk’s is 72.4%.

Adams on Sunday also announced that the city will begin free, at-home, same-day delivery of pills recently authorized by the federal government to treat people who test positive and have mild to moderate symptoms, but are at high risk for that to progress to severe COVID-19.

Yet there remains a severe shortage of the medications, according to the state Department of Health.

The mayor’s office did not respond to emailed questions about supply and about which medications will be offered.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized two: Paxlovid from Pfizer, and Merck’s molnupiravir. Clinical trials showed Paxlovid is much more effective, reducing the risk of hospitalization or death by 88%, compared with 30% for molnupiravir.

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