Still No Confirmed Cases of Novel Coronavirus in New York State
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an update on the status of testing for the novel coronavirus in New York State. As of today, samples from 22 New Yorkers have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. Of those, 16 have come back negative. Two samples from New York City and four samples from New York State outside of New York City are pending, for six total pending samples. There are still no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in New York State.
The Governor also issued updates on the number of flu cases, which continue to rise, and urged all New Yorkers to take recommended precautions as we approach the peak of flu season.
"While we do not have a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the state, we are continuing to take every necessary precaution to protect New Yorkers from this dangerous virus," Governor Cuomo said. "I also want to remind New Yorkers they are more likely to be exposed to the influenza virus than the coronavirus, and urge everyone to take commonsense precautions to protect against both, such as regular hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick."
The Department of Health is working closely with its partners at the federal, state and local level on this constantly evolving public health emergency. Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the State to use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's diagnostic test, New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center is working to implement the coronavirus testing. The Wadsworth Center, which has been at the forefront of numerous public health emergencies such as vaping-associated illnesses, SARS and synthetic cannabinoids, must complete the proper verification protocols before testing can begin.
The latest influenza surveillance report shows seasonal flu activity continues to increase across New York State with at least one lab-confirmed case in all 62 counties. The number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases and hospitalizations continue to be widespread since the flu season began in October. Flu season occurs primarily from October through May, and the 2019-20 season has yet to peak.
Last week 1,889 New Yorkers were hospitalized with lab-confirmed influenza. This season, there have been 13,460 flu-related hospitalizations. In addition, last week, 17,231 laboratory-confirmed flu cases were reported to the State Department of Health, a 15 percent increase in cases from the week prior. The most lab-confirmed influenza cases reported during a single week in a flu season was 18,252 in 2017-18.
There has been a total of 89,597 lab-confirmed cases reported in New York State this season, with three flu-associated pediatric deaths. Influenza activity data is available on the New York State Flu Tracker. The Flu Tracker is a dashboard on the New York State Health Connector that provides timely information about local, regional and statewide influenza activity.
On January 3, the State Department of Health issued a statewide health advisory alerting healthcare providers to the dramatic increase in flu activity across New York State.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "While New York does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus, the flu is here and can be very serious. Taking simple preventive steps such as washing hands often, covering a cough or sneeze with your arm and staying home when experiencing flu-like symptoms will help prevent the spread of the flu. These same actions will help protect New Yorkers against the novel coronavirus."
The State Health Department recommends and urges that everyone six months of age or older receive an influenza vaccination. While there is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and may have traveled to areas of concern or have been in contact with somebody who has traveled to these areas should call ahead to their healthcare provider before presenting for treatment.
New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus. In addition, the Department's dedicated website which was created as a resource for New Yorkers is constantly being updated. The website now includes movement and monitoring guidelines for local health departments and a letter from the Department of Health and State Education Department offering guidance for schools.