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Cuomo: Erie County numbers 'problematic' during COVID-19 pandemic

Of the expanded sample size of 15,000 people statewide, 12.3 percent tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, showing prior infection, according to Governor Cuomo.

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that New York State has completed the country's largest antibody survey. 

At this point, more than 15,000 people across the state have been sampled to determine the state's coronavirus infection rate. 

Of the expanded sample size,12.3 percent tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, showing prior infection.

That's down from 14.9 percent on April 27 and 13.9 percent on April 22. 

"It may only be a couple of points, but it's better than seeing it go up, that's for sure," Cuomo said during a daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday.

The percentages are higher in certain areas. For example, the study shows New York City is now at 19.9 percent. 

According to the preliminary results, Western New York is now at 6 percent, which is at least double the rest of the areas included in the Upstate Region.

"This is predominately an issue for New York City, then Long Island, then the northern suburbs, then the rest of the state, but Erie County, which is Buffalo, New York has been problematic," Cuomo said.

2 On Your Side asked Dr. Thomas Russo, the Chief of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo, for his take on the latest results for Western New York. 

"I'm actually not surprised by those numbers at all. People have to realize we're the second-largest urban center in New York State," he said. "And we have in the greater Buffalo area nearly a million people, so it's to be expected when we have more people that are more closely clustered or a denser population, that we're gonna have more positive cases than areas that have fewer individuals that are more spread out geographically."

Dr. Russo said overall the numbers suggest the overwhelming majority of our population is still susceptible to getting infected.   

He added, "I think what it means is that we need to be vigilant with our public health measures. This is far from over and if anything we need to double down to try to minimize the cases even further."

Dr. Russo said public health measures including mask usage will go a long way to prevent further spread.

As of Saturday Cuomo says there are still about 900 new infections a day in New York State hospitals, and the state is trying to find out where new cases are being generated.

More than 17,000 people in Erie County have been tested for COVID-19 and the number of confirmed cases is now 3,472. To date, 283 people have died in the county.

To further prevent the spread of coronavirus, New York State will distribute 7 million cloth masks across the state to the most vulnerable new yorkers.

The state is also distributing $25 million to food banks across New York. Food banks in Western New York will receive $2.1 million and $1.1 million will go to the Southern Tier.

Credit: New York State

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