One in eight NYers may have had COVID-19, testing shows

May 3, 2020

Nearly one in every eight New Yorkers may have contracted the coronavirus, according to preliminary results from a series of antibody tests conducted by the state in recent weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

Governor Cuomo tours MTA maintenance facility in NYC
Credit Photo courtesy of Governor's Communications Office

New York has now tested 15,103 people for COVID-19 antibodies, Cuomo said, and 12.3% of those surveyed have come back positive.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies, it means they’ve already contracted the disease and recovered. It may also mean they’re less likely to catch the disease again, though the World Health Organization has said people shouldn’t assume they’re immune.

The preliminary results Saturday suggest the prevalence of COVID-19 in New York City far outpaces the disease in other areas of the state. About a fifth of those tested for antibodies in the five boroughs, or 19.9%, came back positive.

Outside New York City, the results show that Western New York has the highest share of cases compared to the region’s population, with 6% identified as positive for antibodies.

The Hudson Valley region, minus Westchester and Rockland Counties, had half that amount, according to the results, with the rest of upstate trailing below. The North Country had the fewest projected cases, with only 1.2% testing positive for antibodies.

Within New York City, there’s a wide gap between the share of positive cases in each of the five boroughs, according to the results.

In the Bronx, 27.6% of those tested for antibodies came back positive. That’s compared to 17.3% in Manhattan. The other three boroughs were below 20%, but above Manhattan’s numbers.

The results also showed that more Hispanic/Latino people tested positive for antibodies than any other race identified in the study. About a quarter of Hispanic/Latino people surveyed, or 25.4%, tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Of the other races identified in the results, 17.4% of Black people and 11.1% of Asian people tested positive for antibodies. About 14% of those who either identified as multiracial or didn’t specify a race tested positive for antibodies.

Only 7% of white people tested came back positive for COVID-19 antibodies, according to the results.

New York is planning to continue testing residents for COVID-19 antibodies on a rolling basis to nail down how prevalent the disease is in specific areas of the state, and different communities. That’s expected to inform the state’s continued response to the disease, Cuomo has said.

Hospitals have also agreed, starting Saturday, to start providing the state with more detailed information about patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

They’ll now report every patient’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, residence, comorbidities, occupation, and how they travel to work. They’ll also disclose where that person was admitted from, whether from their home, the street, or a nursing home.

The number of total hospitalizations, statewide, dipped again to 10,350 Friday, the latest data available from the state. That’s a net decrease of 643. Of those, 2,923 are still intubated, which is also a drop from Thursday.

An additional 1,085 people were discharged Friday. That means that, since the pandemic began, the state has identified 51,652 people with COVID-19 who’ve been treated at the hospital and subsequently discharged.

The total number of people who’ve tested positive for the disease increased to 312,977 Friday, an increase of 4,663 over Thursday.

As of Friday, 18.862 people had died from the disease in New York. that’s an increase of 299 from Thursday’s statewide total.

Used with permission of Dan Clark, host/reporter of "New York Now," WMHT-TV, Schenectady