As many as one in five residents of New York City appear to have tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today. If the preliminary results prove correct, approximately 1.7 million New Yorkers have been exposed to the virus and survived.
The larger-than-anticipated figure – representing 21.2% of New York City residents – could indicate that the death rate for those exposed might be much lower than previously believed.
At his daily press briefing, Cuomo said that 3,000 residents of New York State were recently tested for antibodies at 40 locations over a two-day period. Results indicate that 13.9% of state residents have the antibodies, a significantly lower percentage than New York City’s 21.2%.
The results indicate a faster-moving, more widespread infection rate, but could also suggest a lower estimated death rate – 0.5% – than previously thought.
Cuomo said that antibody testing and a better understanding of the infection rate could be used to determine a reopening strategy. The testing, Cuomo said, “can tell you the infection rate in the population — where it’s higher, where it’s lower — to inform you on a reopening strategy. Then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it’s going up and if it’s going up, slow down.”
Cuomo did not address the issue of whether exposure to the virus confers immunity, but, as The New York Times reports today, the city’s top official for disease control, Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, wrote in an email alert to medical providers that the tests “may produce false negative or false positive results,” suggesting “significant voids” in attempts to discern immunity.
Watch Cuomo’s press briefing, via NBC News, below. The test results begin at the 36.23 mark.:
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