The number of new reported cases of Coronavirus in New York State has begun to decline. The chart below, which shows the three-day moving average of new cases, indicates that after plateauing from April 3rd to April 10th, a decline began, with cases decreasing from a peak of more than 10,000 to less than 5,000 on April 21st. Covid-19 cases decreased throughout the state, but cases in some areas have declined for a longer period than others. And, some areas have far higher rates of new infections than others. Does the decline point to early re-openings for businesses in New York?
Data is from the New York Times Covid-19 Database.
New York City
New York City’s daily peak for new cases was the three-day average ending April 9th, when 6,084 new cases were reported. Since then daily new cases have declined to 2,387. However, New York City continues to have a high rate of new infections – 359 per million residents each day, based on the most recent three-day rolling average.
Nassau and Suffolk Counties has seen a decline in new cases since April 4th, when cases peaked at 2,838 based on the three-day rolling average data. However, the area continues to have large numbers of new infections, with 1,303 on April 21st. The rate of daily new infections based on the average of the most recent three days – 460 per million residents – was the highest among the regions examined here.
Lower Hudson Valley
Lower Hudson Valley counties – Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess – have had relatively high rates of Covid-19 infections. Area cases peaked on April 10th at 1,936 based on the data. The three-day average of new cases on April 21st, was 774. Although new cases have declined, the region continues to have high rates of new infections. The rate of new daily reported infections was 374 per million.
Upstate Metropolitan Areas
Albany-Schenectady-Troy area new Covid-19 cases peaked later than in many places. The daily peak, based on the data occurred on April 14th, with 66 cases. The most recent three-day average of new cases was 34. The Albany area’s rate of daily new infections is relatively high compared to other upstate areas – 39 per million residents, but only about 10% of that found in the downstate area.
Buffalo reached a peak in the number of daily new cases on April 4th, with a three-day average of 150. However, since then cases have plateaued in a range of 60 to 80 without a significant downward trend since the seventh of the month. The most recent daily number of new cases using the data was 59. Buffalo’s rate of new daily infections is 52 per million – the highest upstate rate.
The number of daily new cases in the Rochester metropolitan area peaked on April 2nd at 70 based on the three-day average data and has steadily declined since then. The most recent data, ending April 21st showed 27 new cases daily. The number of daily new infections per million residents in Rochester is 25.
The New York Times Covid-19 data for the Syracuse area has a significant error, which appears on April 10th, where the number of new cases reported is a negative number. However, overall, it is clear that the region had a peak in new cases on April 2nd, when 59 were reported, using the three-day average. Daily cases averaged 9 in the period ending April 21st. The rate of new infections in the Syracuse area was 14 per million on that date.
Like other areas, Utica-Rome has seen declines in the number of new cases Covid-19 in recent days. Utica-Rome peaked at 22 new cases on April 9th, based on the three-day average data. The data shows that on April 21st, the number of new cases was six. The rate of infection in the Utica-Rome area was 21 per million.
A number of New York’s regions have seen declines for two weeks or more. Though the Federal government has proposed two weeks of declines as a condition for the first phase of reopening for business, that is not enough to manage the spread of the virus. With hundreds or thousands of new cases per day downstate, a high potential for spreading the virus would remain if current controls were relaxed.
The reported number of cases in some upstate areas is now low – close to the threshold rate of 20 per million that some have suggested be a condition for reopening businesses. But, the reported numbers are unlikely to be accurate, because as has been widely noted, the availability of testing has been limited to highly susceptible groups and serious cases. So, as Governor Cuomo and others have pointed out, localities must ramp up testing to ensure that everyone who has respiratory symptoms can have easy access to testing before considering reopening.
County and local governments face an equally important issue. Because there is commutation and economic interaction between counties plans should be regional, not county based. As Governor and the CDC have indicated, business reopening should be implemented in phases, based on risk. Before allowing businesses to reopen, counties and local governments must be ready to implement procedures that will limit the spread of new infections. Procedures for tracing contacts of infected persons and isolation of suspected infected persons must be strengthened. Regulatory mechanisms must be developed and applied to insure that businesses comply with newly established health requirements. Added organizational leadership and staff must be located and put in place and trained.
Strict controls on personal interactions and disease spread management through procedures like wearing face masks and hand washing have slowed the transmission of Coronavirus. As a result, we are seeing fewer new cases than in the recent past. When businesses reopen allowing more personal interactions we will again see more potential infections in communities. At that point, controlling the spread of disease will become an even more important function of counties and localities. Relaxing restrictions before the rate of infection is low and declining on a regional level, and before processes to track and manage new infections have been implemented will surely result in more Covid-19 cases and could require the re-imposition of severe controls on personal interactions.