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Tests Suggest 1 in 5 NYC Residents Had Virus

Percentage for the state overall is 13.9%
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 3:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nearly 14% of New York state residents have had the coronavirus, new testing suggests. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the results of the tests Thursday, in which 3,000 people at grocery stores and other shopping sites in 19 counties were checked for antibodies, CNBC reports. The tests showed 13.9% overall had them, which would translate to possibly 2.7 million people in the state. The highest infection rate was in New York City, at more than 21%. Cuomo had said the FDA-approved test would give officials the "first true snapshot" of how widespread the disease is. Having the antibodies doesn't mean a person has immunity; the World Health Organization said last week that the tests don't indicate whether a person is now safe from COVID-19.

If New York's results are indicative of infection rates, it would mean the number of cases is far higher than officials had thought; 250,000 cases in the state have been confirmed. But Cuomo said it would also mean that the fatality rate is as low as about 0.5%, per the New York Times. The sample wasn't completely random, Cuomo conceded, which makes drawing firm conclusions difficult. People out shopping could be exposed to the virus more than people at home, but then, they evidently were healthy enough to be out shopping. "What does it mean? I don't know," the governor said Thursday. New York City's disease official warned that the tests can give false positive results—or false negative ones. Regardless of the caveats, Cuomo said he found the results of 3,000 tests to be "a significant data set." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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