It would make sense that the total number of new COVID-19 cases streaming into New York State hospitals—which, at current count, is 601—were people who were “essential” workers or those that were likely out in public more often than others and at greater risk of exposure. Surprisingly, though, that’s not the case.
As Governor Andrew Cuomo reported during his May 6 press briefing, over the past three days, the state asked New York hospitals where their new cases of COVID-19 were coming from, and the results were quite astonishing. (The survey included 113 hospitals and 1,269 responses.) Overwhelmingly, the new cases were coming from downstate (New York City and Long Island), which has obviously been the epicenter of the crisis; and were from minority backgrounds—nothing new there. But the number of new patients tended to be older people (ages 51-60, 61-70, 71-80 and older), who had largely been staying at home during the crisis. Sixty-six percent of those new cases surveyed fit this bill, whereas just 18 percent came from nursing homes and less than 1 percent from jails/prisons.
Also surprising was the fact that the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases were people who were non-essential employees (or not working at all) and had not been traveling. “It reinforces what we’ve been saying,” said Cuomo, “which is much of this comes down to what you do to protect yourself. Everything is closed down, the government has done everything it could, society has done everything it could, now it’s up to you. Are you wearing a mask, are you using hand sanitizer?” And if they’re coming into contact with younger people, are they potentially putting themselves at risk, if those same young people have not been abiding by social distancing rules? “It’s about personal behavior,” said Cuomo.