New York state passed 1 million Covid-19 cases, after a somber year in which more than 30,000 of its residents died from the virus.
More than a third of the state’s total cases were reported in December as cold weather nudged people indoors, holidays increased social gatherings and residents tired of restrictions. On the first day of 2021, the U.S. surpassed 20 million Covid-19 cases -- twice as many as the second-ranking nation, India.
Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 15,074 new infections, short of New York’s pandemic record of 16,802 cases reached two days ago. Another 128 people in the state died of causes related to Covid-19, Cuomo said on Saturday. The statewide positive-test rate declined slightly to 7.45%.
New York’s first case was reported on March 1 in New York City, served by three major airports that handle more than 100 million passengers a year. The Big Apple quickly became the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, cumulating more than 80,000 cases in the first month, about 40% of the U.S. total at that time. Governor Andrew
Cuomo later faulted President Donald Trump’s administration for allowing 3 million travelers from Europe to enter the U.S. between December and March before suspending most arrivals.
To slow the spread, Cuomo shut schools and businesses, restricted gatherings, ordered residents to stay home and enacted mask and social distancing rules. By May, the state had recovered to the point where Cuomo began reopening in phases and in regions. New York City, which had more than half of the state’s cases, started the process in June. Daily cases and total hospitalizations both dropped below 500, while daily deaths dropped below five.
The virus, meanwhile, spread across the nation, and several states surpassed New York in daily cases, deaths and hospitalizations amid a lack of a national strategy for controlling the surge. California had more than 2.2 million cases and 21,000 hospitalized for Covid-19 as of Jan. 1.
Texas and Florida also have passed 1 million, and Illinois is on track to reach that milestone within the next week. New York state now accounts for just 5% of the nation’s cases.
On Dec. 31, Cuomo reported a record 16,802 positive test results, and 136 deaths. The state had 7,935 hospitalized, twice as many as it did a month earlier.
Cuomo, a second-term Democrat who wrote a book about his leadership through the pandemic, said on Dec. 31 that it may take a year for the state of more than 19 million people to administer vaccines to a critical mass of its population. As of Dec. 22, New York had administered about 203,000 of 630,000 vaccine doses received.
His administration is piloting ways to reopen businesses that would depend heavily on testing and tracing.