Downstate New Yorkers are three times more likely than upstaters to have been tested for Covid-19 – and four times more likely to have been positive when checked.

Those are two patterns that emerge from state Health Department data recently posted online, which give details of the Cuomo administration’s effort to track the pandemic since early March.


This is an installment in a special series of #NYCoronavirus chronicles by Empire Center analysts, focused on New York’s state and local policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic.


Coronavirus testing ramped up dramatically in mid-March, going from hundreds per day to more than 10,000 per day in a matter of a week. As of April 5, a total of more than 320,000 people had been checked, and 131,000 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed – a positive rate of 41 percent.

The lion’s share of testing has focused on the New York City area, which has emerged as one of the worst pandemic hot spots in the U.S. Through April 3, the city itself accounted for 73 percent of the reported deaths statewide, and the neighboring counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland accounted for another 23 percent.

As seen in the charts below, the city and its neighboring suburbs saw both the largest number of tests and the highest rates of testing per 1,000 residents. 

The rate of testing upstate, at about 7 per thousand, is one-third of the rate downstate. The share of upstate tests that come back positive, at 11 percent, is a quarter of the downstate share, which is 45 percent.

Testing patterns also varied within the downstate area. The northern metro region – defined here as Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties – saw the highest rate of testing per 1,000 residents, and Long Island had the second-highest rate.

The five boroughs of New York City – with the heaviest death toll and the largest share of people testing positive – received the second lowest rate of testing per 1,000 residents.

The counties with the highest testing rates were Westchester, at 47 per thousand, Rockland, 39, and Orange, 26.

The counties with the lowest rates were Chautauqua at 2 per thousand, and Niagara and Essex at 3.

Within New York City, the borough with the highest testing rate was Staten Island at 21 per thousand, followed by the Bronx, 19, Queens, 18, and Manhattan and Brooklyn, 15.

raw-tests-by-region-4-5-2850504
Source: NYS Department of Health (click to enlarge)

 

tests-by-region-4-5-6628518
Source: NYS Department of Health (click to enlarge)

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

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