Although positivity rates are rising statewide, Suffolk County’s seven-day rolling average reached double digits this weekend. With the county witnessing a 12.8 percent positivity rate on Tuesday, Dec. 29, county executive Steve Bellone raised concerns regarding how significantly the numbers have skyrocketed in the last month.
“To put it simply, today’s COVID-19 numbers are shocking. Not only is this the highest number of new cases reported since the onset of the pandemic, but the double-digit positivity rate puts us right back to where we were in early May,” Bellone wrote in a statement following the release of the 24-hour statistic. “On Dec. 1, we had a positivity rate of approximately 4 percent; today we are at 12.8 percent. In less than a month, the rate has tripled.”
Considering the statement was released on Dec. 30, Bellone urged residents to limit gatherings and to strictly follow all of the guidelines. The county witnessed a 9.7 percent positivity rate on Dec. 31 and a 9.6 percent positivity rate on Jan. 1.
However, this following weekend’s percentages in the county logged in at 10.6 and 11.3 for Saturday and Sunday, respectively, which has pushed the county’s seven-day rolling average to over 10 percent. Bellone and the county have credited gatherings during the holiday season with the increased rate.
“We are the only ones who can change these numbers. We have seen this virus spread during the holiday season through small gatherings in homes where people are more likely to let their guard down,” Bellone said, leading into New Year’s Eve.
On Monday, Jan. 4, Bellone and the county released another statement regarding the 11.3 percent positivity rate logged for the previous 24-hour period. Bellone reflected on the difficult month of December 2020 for Suffolk County.
“In 31 days, we saw the highest number of new cases since the beginning of this crisis and suffered 100 more deaths than we experienced in the prior six months combined,” he said. “With the holiday season behind us, we must do everything we can to bring these numbers down by limiting gatherings and making sure we socially distance and wear masks when we are with others.”
Statewide positivity rates for 24-hour periods also reached its highest number (8.7 percent) on Dec. 29 since May, though still several percentage points below Suffolk County’s logged statistic on the same day. It is also notable that New York City (4.1 percent) as well as Nassau County (10.5 percent) both logged their highest statistics in a 24-hour period since May.
The highest positivity rate in the county for a 24-hour period posted last May occurred on May 1, at 16.6 percent. If the positivity rate continues to rise at the rate it has in Suffolk County, upcoming percentages will begin to be compared to numbers from last April, as opposed to May.
This publication reported last week that a 9.1 percent positivity rate on Dec. 27 was the highest percentage seen in the county since May. Each 24-hour period since Dec. 27 has shown a higher number.
With the distribution of the vaccine in Phase 1A in New York, increasing numbers of residents anticipate receiving the vaccine. Phase 1A remains specific to the health care industry as well as other industries that have the highest potential to come in direct contact with the virus.
“With distribution of the vaccine underway, the goal line is in sight, but we must remain vigilant in the weeks and months ahead," Bellone said.