Governor Points to Problem With Western New York COVID Numbers, Briefly Touches Downstate Hotspots

“If you look at the statewide numbers, which is what most states present, we are doing very well. The statewide numbers today without the hot spots in them: 0.84. That’s doing extraordinarily well. We haven’t been that low since September 24th. If you add in the hot spots, which is then a skewed sample, it’s 0.96. 0.96 is the lowest it’s been since September 24th, and that is very good,” said Governor Cuomo during a Sunday update.

According to the Governor, if you break the state down by regional positivity percentage rate, this is where we currently stand: NYC: 1.1.  Capital Region: 0.6.  Central New York: 0.9.  Finger Lakes: 0.9.  Long Island: 1.0.  Mid-Hudson: 1.1.  North Country: 0.2.  Southern Tier: 0.9.  Western New York: 1.4.

After releasing the data, the Governor commented on Western New York’s COVID positivity standing.  “We’ve had an ongoing issue with Western New York, and it is not getting dramatically better; it’s not getting dramatically worse, but it’s not getting dramatically better either,” Cuomo said.

While Western New York, a region containing the state’s second largest city, has had difficulty keeping the overall positive percentile beneath 1%, hotspot counties further downstate pose another significant crisis as reflected by the data.

Orange County, within the Mid-Hudson Region, is testing a COVID positivity of 2.5% amongst the population.  Rockland County, also Mid-Hudson Region, is at 2.1%.  Broome county, part of the Southern Tier Region, is riding highest at 3.4%.  Lastly, Brooklyn is at 1.5%.  Brooklyn is in Kings County and further branched beneath the New York City Region for all COVID analysis.  Most of these areas are also defined, in part, by their condensed populations, making them a different study than most of Western New York.

For perspective, the total population of Western New York, as defined by New York State for COVID-19 analysis, is 1,377,433 people.  That is incorporating five separate counties spanning a distance that can take more than two hours of travel from furthest point to furthest point. For clarification, slightly less than one million of those people reside in Erie County. Leaving large expanses of people in Western New York affected by the positivity rate within an area which they may very rarely even visit.

Brooklyn, New York, which is just one part of the larger NYC Region, is dwarfed by the vast acreage which comprises the Western New York Region.  Regardless, the area has over a million more people existing within their borders.  The latest population count for Brooklyn is roughly 2.533 million. Again, that area is rating at a 1.5% positivity rate within a tightly congested 69.5 square miles.

So, which area is most at risk? Should we mitigate that risk the same way in all regions?  That isn’t an easy question to answer.  A question only made harder if the nuance in these three-day rolling averages and the areas they impact continues unaddressed.