Coronavirus cases rise sharply in New York again, Gov Andrew Cuomo says Thanksgiving will make bad situation worse
Americans celebrated Thanksgiving this year even as coronavirus cases were reaching record highs across the country. New York is also seeing a spike: the state recorded more than 6,000 daily Covid cases for the first time this week since late April. Of the 173,085 tests conducted on November 24 across the state, 6,265 or 3.62%, were positive. The positive testing rate in all focus zone areas was 5.28%, and New York State positivity outside all focus zone areas was 3.04%. The numbers are expected to increase after Thanksgiving. New York City was an early epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that Covid-19 numbers started increasing with the fall, it is going to continue, and that it will probably worsen in the winter. “We have tremendous increases statewide that have been going up through the fall. We now have an added problem where we’re going through Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving will be an added accelerant because people travel and there’s more social activity. The more social activity, the more the infection rate goes up. We are going to see an increase post-Thanksgiving. That is going to take a bad situation and make it worse. How much the numbers go up depends on how people perform,” he emphasized.
An estimated 219,442 Covid-19 test results were reported to the New York State on November 26, a new record-high number for the second straight day. The positive testing rate in all focus zone areas was 5.69%, while New York State positivity outside all focus zone areas was 3.13%. The statewide positivity rate was 3.72% or 8,163 cases.
On November 25, 217,721 test results were reported to New York State. The positive testing rate in all focus zone areas was 4.90%, while New York State positivity outside all focus zone areas was 2.68%. The statewide positivity rate was 3.18% or 6,923.
“All the global experts say the same thing: This virus has phases, and as the phase changes your plan should change. As we go through the holidays and winter months, it’s going to be more imperative than ever for New Yorkers to wear their masks, wash their hands, avoid gatherings large and small, and stay New York tough,” suggested Cuomo. He added, “What we’re going to be doing through this Thanksgiving weekend and into next week, we’re going to be working on our winter plan. The winter plan is also going to develop a vaccine distribution plan that does it fairly and effectively and prioritizes the vaccines in the most judicious way.”
The Covid-19 tracker of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has been updated till November 27, shows that 27,164 infections were reported to the agency from New York in the last seven days, while 18,138 Covid-19 cases were separately recorded by the New York City during the same period.
The Covid-19 tracker also shows that as of November 27, 12,823,092 infections have been reported to the agency from across the US, including over 142,739 new cases. So far, 262,673 have died in the pandemic, which includes over 1,397 new deaths.
With infections rising dramatically across the US, several scientists, health experts and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had advised against traveling for Thanksgiving. Despite the warnings, many Americans boarded flights to be with their families and friends, reveal the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data.
Spikes in Covid-19 numbers occurred after Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since Thanksgiving is typically the most traveled holiday in the US, experts are fearing another surge. Dr Jonathan Reiner, a former White House medical team adviser, warned that Thanksgiving could potentially be the “mother of all superspreader events.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert, had stated before Thanksgiving: “What we don’t want to see is yet another surge superposed upon the (current) surge, which we will realize three, three-and-a-half-weeks from now if we don’t do these (wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds, particularly indoor) public health things,”
Osterholm, a member of President-Elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory council, also cautioned that the US was in a precarious state. “I worry that the Thanksgiving Day surge will then just add into what will become the Christmas surge, which will then make this one seem as if it wasn’t so bad. So, we have to understand we’re in a very dangerous place. People have to stop swapping air. It’s just that simple. And if we don’t, we’re going to see many, many of our friends, colleagues and loved ones ending up in a hospital and, unfortunately, some of them not making it,” he emphasized.
According to Cuomo, there are many theories about how bad the increase will be after Thanksgiving but they all project an increase post-Thanksgiving. “We see air travel is increased, we see car travel is increased, and we know that the more social activity, the higher the infection rate. We know we have more social interaction, period,” he explained.
Cuomo further said, “We want to see what Thanksgiving actually did. If it did, it evenly across the state, if it caused a spike in some parts of the state. We can’t tell now if there’s more social interaction proportionately to Thanksgiving in certain parts of the state. I can’t tell you if Buffalo is seeing proportionately more social activity because of Thanksgiving than New York City, than Long Island. There is a lag in the infection rate. Somebody gets Covid-19 today at a Thanksgiving, you won’t see that show up for days, possibly.”
Earlier this week, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court had struck down an order by Cuomo that had restricted the size of religious gatherings in certain areas of New York where infection rates were climbing. The governor had imposed 10- and 25-person capacity limits on churches and other houses of worship in those areas. Commenting on the decision, Cuomo said, “I think that (the) Supreme Court ruling on religious gatherings is more illustrative of the Supreme Court than anything else. It’s irrelevant from a practical impact because the zone that they were talking about has already been moved. It expired last week. I think this was really just an opportunity for the Court to express its philosophy and politics... I fully respect religion and if there’s a time in life when we need it, the time is now, but we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time. That’s the balance we’re trying to hit, especially through this holiday season.”