First coronavirus variant case makes its way to New York

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More than 12,000 people throughout the North Shore had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday, according to state figures. (Chart by Robert Pelaez)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the new variant of the coronavirus, first found in the United Kingdom, has made its way to New York.

Cuomo said on Monday that a man in his 60’s who is affiliated with a Saratoga County jewelry store had tested positive for the new variant.  Cuomo urged anyone who was in the N. Fox Jewelers store in Saratoga County from Dec. 18 to 24 to get tested immediately.  The variant is reportedly 70 percent more contagious than the normal coronavirus, health officials said.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to do effective contact tracing on this case,” Cuomo said. “And we’re going through the employees of the jewelry store, but as it was a retail establishment we need the cooperation of the public.”

As of Wednesday, the variant has made its way from the United Kingdom to California, Colorado, Florida, along with 33 other countries before New York, according to Cuomo.

Cuomo announced on Tuesday that international travelers will continue to require testing when traveling to New York. He announced before the holidays in December that Virgin, Delta and British Airways agreed that they will test people before they get on a flight in the U.K. en route to New York.  

“While these efforts are underway, the U.K. strain of the virus remains highly problematic – it is here and it could complicate matters further, as it is much more transmissible,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “Despite all of this, the federal government continues its refusal to test all international travelers entering the country.”

The governor said that more than 300,000 New Yorkers had received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

As of Wednesday, more than 1,000 people on the North Shore tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week, bringing the total to nearly 12,377 since the pandemic hit in March.

The figures were the most up-to-date ones that the Nassau County Department of Health provided on Wednesday.

After trailing the Great Neck peninsula, the only North Shore area to be deemed a “yellow zone” by the state, the area that incorporates the Willistons and Mineola had 2,664 cases as of Wednesday, the most of all analyzed areas. The Village of Mineola saw one of the highest increase of cases over the one-week period with more than 160 new cases. Mineola’s 1,155 cases and Garden City’s 1,031 cases accounted for 2,186 of the 2,664 cases in the area.

The Great Neck peninsula saw an increase of 191 cases over the past week.  The Village of Great Neck’s 733 coronavirus cases were the most throughout the peninsula, followed by the Village of Kings Point’s 476 and the Village of Great Neck Plaza’s 418.

The New Hyde Park area accounted for 2,576 of the North Shore’s cases, with North New Hyde Park having the third most confirmed positives, 936, out of any analyzed area.  The villages of Floral Park, with 828 cases, and New Hyde Park, with 605 cases, were also among the top seven villages or unincorporated town areas in terms of positive tests and were for the entire month of December, according to Health Department statistics.

The Port Washington area eclipsed 1,000 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and the area saw an increase of nearly 200 cases over one week, according to the figures. The town-governed area of Port Washington had 655 total cases as of Wednesday, leading the peninsula and more than double Manorhaven’s 297 cases.

Municipalities and unincorporated areas that stretch into more than one North Shore area such as Flower Hill, Herricks, Albertson, Garden City Park, Searingtown and North Hills were counted separately and accounted for 1,576 cases, according to county statistics.

The Village of Roslyn’s 211 cases may not seem high compared with other North Shore areas, but the cases per 1,000 residents, 70.48, is one of the highest rates in Nassau County, according to Health Department figures. Despite this, the village has seen one of the lowest two-month increases of any analyzed municipality, with fewer than 75 new confirmed cases since Nov. 1, according to county statistics.  The Village of Roslyn Heights had 386 total cases as of Wednesday, and the Village of East Hills had 279.

Manhasset, which has remained comparatively low since the beginning of the pandemic, had 838 cases, with around half coming from town-governed areas.  It is the only analyzed area with fewer than 900 cases.

A total of 94,379 Nassau County residents had tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday, and 2,431 had died since the pandemic began. More than 700 Nassau residents remained hospitalized due to the virus, with 87 in intensive care units and 58 on ventilators, according to county figures.  The county’s seven-day positivity rate was 6.16 percent as of Wednesday.

Throughout New York, more than one million people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday, according to state figures. Of that total, more than 38,000 people had died. In New York City, 456,000 people had contracted the virus, and 25,309 had died.

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