Cuomo expects COVID-19 spike after holiday

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about the likelihood that Thanksgiving gatherings will cause a spike in COVID-19 infections, with Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa seated on the right. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday he expects COVID-19 cases to exponentially surge nationwide in the coming weeks — especially with next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Private gatherings across the state are limited to 10 people or fewer by an executive order the governor signed earlier this month.

“You will see a tremendous spike after Thanksgiving — that’s my personal theory,” he said Wednesday. “If you don’t have a real fear about COVID, you’re going to come together. It’s going to happen because it’s human behavior.”

Cuomo has dissuaded his 89-year-old mother, Matilda Cuomo, from holding a small Thanksgiving dinner with his siblings and spouses.

A second wave of the novel coronavirus largely swept Canada after the nation’s Thanksgiving holiday Oct. 11.

“Your family sounds safe, doesn’t it? Your home sounds safe,” the governor said. “Our dining room table at Thanksgiving sounds safe. ... No, you won’t be safe. It’s an illusion. My sister loves me. My sister could infect me — not maliciously, but accidentally.

“What I thought was the safest place and the safest situation in my home at my table with my family ... that’s a dangerous situation,” he added.

New York has the fourth-lowest coronavirus infection rate of 50 U.S. states at a seven-day average of about 2.9%, with Vermont the lowest at 2%, and Hawaii and Maine close behind at 2.02% and 2.15% new COVID cases, respectively.

South Dakota holds the nation’s highest infection rate at 56.3%, with 51% positive in Iowa, 43.8% in Kansas and 40.1% in Idaho. More than half the nation has spiking infections higher than 10%.

“You’re higher than New York was when it was ambushed eight months ago? How can that possibly be?” Cuomo asked. “Remember, we were ambushed (by COVID-19) coming from Europe. Nobody told us. It exploded — it was like sending a bomb.”

New York’s statewide positivity rate peaked at 46% on April 8. The states surging now were not as hard-hit by the coronavirus when it first arrived at the beginning of the year.

Of the state’s 10 regions, Western New York had the highest positivity Wednesday at 5.1%, with yellow or orange microcluster rules threatening the Finger Lakes with 4.3% positivity. The Capital Region increased to 2.3% new infections Wednesday, with 3.7% in Central New York and 1.8% in the north country. The Southern Tier has the state’s lowest infection rate with 1.2% positive.

New York City, the epicenter of the original virus outbreak this spring, has fluctuated between 2.5% and 3%. All New York City schools will indefinitely transition to remote learning starting today, Chancellor Richard Carranza announced to school officials in an email after 2 p.m. Wednesday, because of the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate reaching 3%.

The shutdown will impact more than 300,000 children in more than 1,700 schools after resuming classes in late September.

“Some places haven’t yet experienced the full pain of COVID,” the governor said. “They’ve read about it, but it’s been happening somewhere else. It hasn’t been happening here and people are parochial. If it isn’t happening here, it’s not as real.”

New York’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate increased to 3.1% on Wednesday after 154,434 diagnostic tests, down from 3.4% on Tuesday.

State hospitalizations surged to 2,202 patients Wednesday, or an uptick of 78.

Thirty-five New Yorkers died from COVID complications Tuesday — the state’s highest daily death count in months.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1