As colder weather approaches, the Northeast is witnessing worrisome spikes.
New York’s infection rate reached 4.27% on Saturday—the highest level since May, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday. Across the state, including micro-cluster zones, the percentage had risen from 3.9% the day before, and of 157,000 coronavirus tests, 6,723 were positive, Cuomo said.
"It was the highest since back in May," the governor said on a press call from Albany on Sunday. "If you look at New York relative only to New York, you see the numbers going up. Not as fast as in other states, but the numbers are going up."
Already on Monday, the governor noted that the positive testing rate in all focus areas under the state's Micro-Cluster strategy was 6.22%, and outside the focus zone areas, it was 4.02%. Hospitalizations also surged past 3,500 over the weekend—an alarming volume not seen in New York since May.
"I expect you're going to see the rate going up through the holiday season," he said. "This is a new phase for COVID—call it the winter phase or the holiday phase or the surge upon surge phase."
So far, Cuomo has announced that small gatherings are currently the number one spreader of COVID-19 and account for 65% of all cases.
He said that tightening restrictions across the state won't control the spikes because the spread is largely happening in living rooms. While there's no way of really enforcing what people do in their homes, Cuomo is focusing on educating New Yorkers.
"The government doesn’t have the ability to monitor it," he added. "We have to communicate this to people in the same way we communicated masks ... all you can do is educate people and hope they hear you when you ask them to wear a mask. It's public education."
He also noted that the state will now begin focusing on the number of hospitalizations and capacity at hospitals by mandating hospital networks and individual hospitals to distribute patients equally so that no one hospital is overwhelmed as the winter goes on.
New York will also begin identifying retired nurses and doctors for hospitals experiencing staff shortages.
More details for the "winter phase" in New York will be announced this week, Cuomo said.
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