COVID-19 community levels in New York state are continuing to decline from a post-omicron springtime spike, with only a handful of counties now classified as having "high" community levels of the virus, according to new data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday, only seven of the state's 62 counties are now classified by the CDC as having "high" COVID-19 levels. That’s down from the recent peak of 54 just three weeks ago. The current "high" counties are Clinton County in the North Country, two counties in the Capital Region and western Hudson Valley, and those on Long Island.
The CDC uses a "high," "medium" and "low" classification, which is determined by the number of new cases in the county per 100,000 people in the past seven days; the number of new hospital admissions with COVID-19 in the past seven days per 100,000 people; and the percentage of staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19 within a seven-day average.
With a "high" level, the CDC recommends wearing masks in indoor public areas and on public transportation. There are currently no local mask requirements in the affected areas, outside of the statewide requirement for them in bus and train stations, prisons, state-regulated care settings and homeless shelters.
The number of "high" counties in the state gradually increased between April 15 and May 20, before starting to decline with data on May 27.
Three weeks ago, there was only one county in the state that was classified as “low.” Now there are 19, many of which are in Central New York, the region which had been at “high” levels for a month and a half and once were among the few counties in the whole country at that level. The region was the first in New York to have confirmed COVID-19 cases caused by the BA.2 omicron subvariant known as BA.2.12, state officials said at the time.
Western New York, much of the Southern Tier and North Country, as well as New York City, are now classified as "medium."
Nationwide, there are 314 counties the CDC said have “high” levels of COVID-19, which is up from the last two weeks. Where once the vast majority of "high" counties was in the the Northeast, now they are more scattered throughout the country, with concentrations in the mid-Atlantic states and Florida, and parts of the upper Midwest, Southwest and West Coast.
President Joe Biden's administration on Friday announced it is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights,
According to state data released Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, the state’s seven-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people stood at 31.93. In recent weeks, New York health officials and those in other states have started using cases per 100,000 residents, and not the more traditional percentage of positive results of those who have been tested, as a more accurate way of measuring infection rates.