• A preliminary study estimates that one-in-five New York City residents have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.
  • The study surveyed 3,000 New Yorkers at grocery stores across 19 counties in the state and found that 13.9% statewide tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
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A statewide antibody study found that 21.2% of New York City residents have been infected with the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

The study tested 3,000 New York residents statewide at grocery and big-box stores for antibodies that indicate whether someone has had the virus. Overall, it found that 13.9% of New York state residents had been infected.

The highest rates of past infections occurred in and around New York City, which has been the epicenter of the US outbreak. In Long Island, 16.7% tested positive, and in Westchester and Rockland counties, 11.7% tested positive. In the rest of the state, just 3.6% tested positive.

"What we found so far is that the statewide number is 13.9% tested positive for having the antibodies," Cuomo said. "They were infected three weeks ago, four weeks ago, five weeks ago, six weeks ago, but they had the virus, they developed the antibodies and they are now recovered."

These tests results are preliminary, Cuomo says

When broken down by race, African Americans and Latinos tested positive at twice the rate of whites in New York — at 22.1% and 22.5% respectively, compared to 9.1% for Whites — though Cuomo said that these results are a function of where people live.

Men tested positive at a slightly higher rate than women, at 15.9% versus 12% percent respectively. 

The tests were conducted in 40 localities across 19 counties in the state. New York state has 19.4 million residents, meaning that approximately 2.7 million have been infected with COVID-19, per the study. The state recorded just under 15,500 fatalities as of Wednesday, indicating a mortality rate of around 0.5% — far lower than previous estimates.  

The study has limitations and Cuomo noted that the results are preliminary. To start, the study relied on a self-selected sample of New Yorkers who went to grocery stores where testing was happening. It's possible that those who thought they had coronavirus and are no longer symptomatic sought out tests.

"These are people who were out and about shopping," Cuomo said. "They were not people who were in their homes, they were not people who were isolated, they were not people who were quarantined."

The full results and methodology have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal or released to the public. 

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The death toll remains high, but indicators are trending in the right direction

  • The state reported 438 deaths on Thursday, down from 474 on Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the state to 15,740, per the Department of Health. The total number of cases is 263,460, though that number is likely higher based on the antibody test results, Cuomo said. 
  • Both intubations and ICU admissions declined as well, continuing similar trends for this week.
  • Still, more than 1300 patients were admitted to hospitals on Wednesday. That number has remained relatively flat since late last week. 

Here are the other key takeaways from Cuomo's Thursday press conference:

  • The state will launch an investigation into nursing homes led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The investigation will look into the high number of deaths recorded at nursing homes, and whether the homes are adhering to the Department of Health guidelines by isolating COVID-positive residences, providing protective care and temperature checks for workers, and notifying family members of positive tests, among other points.
  • Cuomo said the lower rates of antibodies in upstate New York could provide credence to a regionally-based reopening, letting stores, businesses, and schools reopen in areas where infection rates are lowest. Cuomo cautioned that the study's results are preliminary, and it won't be used immediately to make reopening decisions.
  • Cuomo laid into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him a "self-proclaimed Grim Reaper" over McConnell's assertion that the federal stimulus package is a "blue state bailout" and that states like New York that are seriously affected by the coronavirus should consider declaring bankruptcy.