The Perfect Enemy | CDC lowers Long Island’s COVID-19 transmission risk to ‘low’ - Newsday
April 13, 2024

CDC lowers Long Island’s COVID-19 transmission risk to ‘low’ – Newsday

CDC lowers Long Island’s COVID-19 transmission risk to ‘low’  Newsday

The nation’s top health protection agency has dropped Long Island’s community-level risk of COVID-19 transmission to “low,” though a local expert recommends people remain cautious, especially those vulnerable to serious illness.

The shift by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday places Long Island in the lowest-risk category. Under that designation, Long Islanders should stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, maintain good ventilation indoors and isolate should they take ill, the agency said.

Those people who are immunocompromised or at risk for severe disease should have a plan for rapid testing, such as a home test kit, the agency said. They should also talk to their physician about additional prevention measures.

“We’re in kind of a sweet spot, coming down off the winter wave,” said Sean Clouston, an associate professor of public health at Stony Brook University. “We’ve kind of plateaued at relatively low levels.”

But Clouston said it’s too early to say the virus is behind us. People might still want to wear a mask in crowded situations both inside and outside, depending on a person’s health and vaccination record, he said.

The CDC had earlier reduced Long Island’s risk level from high to medium in January, when 568 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized on Long Island.

A total of 261 Long Islanders were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, the state Health Department said. Those numbers represent a monumental decrease from the beginning of the pandemic. For example, on April 10, 2020, the state reported 4,108 Long Islanders hospitalized. 

The Island had 187 new cases Thursday, and no COVID-related deaths, according to state figures.

In comparison, the Island had a total of 2,130 cases on May 11, 2022. 

Community leaders celebrated the lowering of the local risk level.

“We are thankful that once again transmission of the COVID-19 virus is low,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Of course, we should continue to remain vigilant and avail ourselves of the vaccines and, if needed, treatments available for this infection.”

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said, “We are fortunate to have some of the finest health care facilities in the world here in Nassau County, and I believe that is one of the reasons we have one of the healthiest counties in the United States.”

Most current virus cases are driven by the strand XBB. 1.5, a descendant of the Omicron variant that is more infectious but generally less severe than prior variants, Clouston said. “And we’ve had a lot of vaccinations among vulnerable people,” he said.

Clouston noted that last March also saw less virus going around, but the numbers rose again in April.

“COVID-19 has a tendency to mutate and change pretty quickly,” he said, noting that the XBB. 1.5 continues to spread around the world. “It may be we’re out of the hot spot for now.”

New York City’s five boroughs also stand at a low level of risk for spread, the CDC said.