New York Becomes 4th State to Cross 1M COVID-19 Cases

All in all, a virus that was just beginning to make global headlines this time last year has now killed more than 1 in every 1,000 Americans

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What to Know

  • Coronavirus positivity rates have continued to climb in every part of the state, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office
  • It comes as New York City Mayor de Blasio announced plans for the city to vaccinate 1 million New Yorkers in January
  • The CDC says two COVID-19 variants, one identified in the U.K. and one in South Africa, both appear more transmissible than the earlier strain; there's no evidence either causes more severe infections

Amid a rising winter surge that has prompted renewed restrictions and worries of a new virus variant, New York state on Saturday reached a previously unthinkable milestone of one million cases of the coronavirus.

New York is the fourth state in the U.S. to reach such a record, following that of California, Texas and Florida.

Of the 202,446 tests reported by the governor's office on Saturday, 15,074 new confirmed cases brought the statewide total to 1,005,785.

Experts say the official number of coronavirus cases represents a significant undercount, since many people in the New York City area were infected with the coronavirus last spring when testing was largely unavailable.

News of the state's latest milestone comes just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office reported more than 30,000 officials deaths related to the virus. By Saturday, that figure climbed to 30,337, aided by an additional 128 deaths reported by Cuomo.

Positivity rates continue to tick up in every part of New York, as the city begins to make good on its New Year's resolution to vaccinate 1 million residents this month.

The increase is driven by every one of the state's ten regions; every part of the state has seen a small, but steady increases in average positivity rates this week.

"As we start 2021, I encourage all New Yorkers to look to their better angels and continue the practices we know stop the spread of this virus - wash your hands, socially distance and wear a mask," Cuomo said in a statement.

In New York City, the average positivity rate is now at 6.17 percent, according to state data. That's significantly lower than figures form the city health department, which shows a 9.39 percent positivity rate. But it's another number - 1 million - that the city is shifting it's focus to beginning today.

Mayor de Blasio says the city plans to to vaccinate 1 million residents in January alone. While it's a lofty goal, it's a necessary one, de Blasio said, adding he was concerned new variants could intensify the infectiousness of the disease.

“We need to go into overdrive now,” the mayor said at his regular briefing Thursday. “We need every day to speed up and reach more and more people.”

New York City's top doctor, Dave Chokshi, said Thursday the five boroughs plan to double access points to vaccine over the next month. The city will launch its first dedicated vaccine hubs in the coming weeks, he said. Those hubs will be everywhere from school gymnasiums to pop-up clinics to help hit the million goal.

As long as the federal government holds up its end of the supply chain, Chokshi and de Blasio say they will be able to meet that aggressive objective. Deputy Mayor Melanie Hartzog said officials also plan to double the city’s 150,000-dose-a-week capacity over the course of January.

"This would be like our flu campaign in overdrive," Chokshi said Thursday.

While vaccination programs, which many have dubbed the "light at the end of the tunnel," are well underway, tri-state officials acknowledge the goal of "herd immunity" is likely at least half a year away, if not longer. It could be a lot longer.

To date, the city has seen at least 25,000 deaths, by New York Times data, and may have thousands more attributable to it; Brooklyn and Queens remain the third- and fourth-deadliest COVID counties in the entire country. The city's first COVID death was reported on March 14. In his final COVID briefing of 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced March 14, 2021 will be a day of remembrance.

"We need to recognize 25,000 of our fellow New Yorkers gone -- that's something we have to always mark going forward," de Blasio said Thursday. "We got to remember them by 1) being there for their families, by 2) honoring those who did so much to try to save them, and 3) by working to make this city better all the time in their memory."

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region

Gov. Andrew Cuomo breaks the state into 10 regions for testing purposes and tracks positivity rates to identify potential hotspots. Here's the latest tracking data by region and for the five boroughs. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here


He believes hospitals can manage the increase and New Yorkers can mitigate it. So far, no hospital has notified the state it is on pace to hit 85 percent capacity within 21 days, which would begin to churn the shutdown mechanisms.

Still, New York will enter the new year facing a number of uncertainties. At the top of that list -- two new, more contagious viral strains that have not yet been detected in the tri-state area but likely are already here, according to officials.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom had been detected in Colorado. U.K. scientists believe the variant is more contagious than previous strains of the virus.

Cuomo has ordered hospitals across the state to test for the U.K. variant, which was first detected in the U.S., in Colorado, this week. That state is already investigating its second suspected case. California has now found one, too.

While evidence indicates that variant and the new strain identified in South Africa earlier this year are more transmissible, there's no indication that either causes more severe infections or higher death rates. Vaccines are expected to work.

When Could I Get the Vaccine?

Answer the questions to calculate your risk profile and see where you fall in your county's and state's vaccine lineup. This estimate is based on a combination of vaccine rollout recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group, see this methodology.
Source: the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 by Ariadne Labs and the Surgo Foundation
Interactive by Amy O’Kruk/NBC

The race to large-scale vaccination of the general public couldn't be more urgent, with the economic and human tolls of this nearly year-long pandemic in the U.S. already incalculable and still mounting by the day.

Nationally, December has been the deadliest and most infectious month of the pandemic in the U.S. to date, a fate that experts had warned of months ago amid concerns about colder weather prompting more indoor activity and holiday travel.

To date, more than 345,000 have died and confirmed infections have topped 20 million. All in all, a virus that was just beginning to make global headlines this time last year has now killed more than 1 in every 1,000 Americans.

Even though a new strain of COVID-19 is not proven to be more deadly, it can spread more quickly and has the potential to overwhelm the health care system more rapidly. Infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson joined LX News with a grim warning as we enter a New Year with historic infection rates and a virus mutation she believes has already entered the U.S.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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