Cuomo says tracking daily testing can help fight potential spike in COVID-19 cases

(Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

While New York has made great strides in bending the COVID-19 curve downward, Governor Cuomo is saying that we need to stay smart to prevent any new coronavirus spikes statewide.

With the number COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations hitting new low points, the Hudson Valley, Westchester and Rockland counties are cleared to enter phase two of reopening on June 9. Long Island is also on track to enter phase two of reopening on June 10.

The Long Island Rail Road is up and running and MetroNorth is taking steps to make sure that riders will be safe now that more people will likely be taking mass transit again. Riders will be required to wear masks while riding, and if you don’t have a mask the MTA can provide you one. Hand sanitizer will also be distributed at LIRR and MetroNorth stations.

Cuomo stressed that even though the numbers are going down in these areas, we will have to keep an eye on daily testing numbers to track any potential spikes that may be caused by reopening or the recent protests. The state is posting a new dashboard that will track the number of daily tests and COVID-19 positive test results in these areas.

“We need to look at the facts and the numbers through a different lens now,” said Cuomo. “The question now is, could there be any spike in the rate of transmission upon reopening? Now what we want to look at is the day-to-day testing that we’re doing.”

New York is performing about 50,000 tests daily. Cuomo says that by watching that daily number, the regions of New York state can get a better idea of if a resurgence of the virus is coming rather than looking at the number of deaths in each county.

“If you start to see tremors of a spike, and if those numbers start to move, then you want to know right away why and how,” said Cuomo. “We have to stay smart because reopening resets the whole game.” Cuomo added that a number of states have seen huge spikes in COVID-19 cases since reopening.

Although New York City entered phase one of reopening on June 8, there are certain hotspots that are still exhibiting high rates of infection compared to the rest of the city.

“The virus did not attack equally. It hit lower-income areas, more minority areas, harder,” said Cuomo. “In New York City that is probably the most demonstrable. In New York City the overall infection rate was about 20% – we have some zip codes where the infection rate is over 50%.”

Cuomo stated that New York is “attacking” these hotspots with more testing. The state is partnering with CORE, a global response organization co-founded by actor Sean Penn, to set up 11 additional testing sites in these areas.

“With CORE, we’re looking at the fall and saying let’s work backward and say we did the right thing,” said Penn, who video-conferenced into the press briefing. “We are excited to be taking your direction to get into those ZIP codes of the most marginalized communities.”