new-york-county-map-150x150-4361396With the coronavirus pandemic hitting some parts of New York much harder than others, Governor Cuomo has signaled that he will begin to relax shutdown restrictions in low-virus parts of the state.

Here’s a closer look at how infection and fatality rates vary from region to region.

The sharpest disparity is between upstate and downstate, with the New York City metropolitan area ranking as one of the worst hot spots in the world and upstate counties seeing infection rates below the national average.


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.


As of Sunday, the city proper, along with Long Island and its northern suburbs (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties), had recorded almost 14,000 Covid-19 deaths, which was 97 percent of the statewide total and a third of the nationwide toll.

The impact on the other 50 counties has been far less severe, with 410 deaths as of Sunday. 

death-rates-by-county-4-19-7244831
Source: New York State Department of Health (click to enlarge)

 

Compared to the nation as a whole, upstate’s infection and fatality rates are closer to normal. If the counties north of Orange and Dutchess were their own state, its coronavirus fatality rate as of Sunday would have been 7 per 100,000. That was lower than the nationwide rate of 11 per 100,000, and it would have ranked 16th among the 50 states.

The upstate-downstate contrast was reflected in the impact of Cuomo’s ban on elective procedures in hospitals, which was designed to clear space for an expected wave of coronavirus patients. While downstate hospitals were indeed overwhelmed in recent weeks, many upstate hospitals have been furloughing employees for lack of business or revenue.

On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that hospitals in certain upstate counties could resume elective procedures on a limited basis later this month. He has also partially lifted his orders closing golf courses and marinas.

curves-by-nys-region-4-19-1737153
Source: New York Times county database (click to enlarge)

 

Within the upstate area, the outbreak has been worse in the more urban areas. As of Sunday, the largest upstate death toll was 143 in Erie County, home to Buffalo. That was followed by 60 in Monroe County, home to Rochester, and 19 each in Albany County and Onondaga, home to Syracuse.

Infection rates also vary widely across the state, ranging from 1.5 per 1,000 in the upstate region to 20.5 per 1,000 on Long Island and in the northern metro suburbs. These numbers are likely distorted by varying amounts of testing, with most of the effort concentrated in the metropolitan area. The share of tests coming back positive was three or four times lower in upstate counties, which tends to confirm that the virus is less prevalent in that region.

screen-shot-2020-04-22-at-10-54-51-am-2436468
Source: New York Times Covid-19 database (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

You may also like

New York Has Widened Its Lead in Per-Capita Spending on Medicaid

New York's per-capita Medicaid spending soared to more than double the nationwide rate in 2018, widening its gap with the other 49 states. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Enrollment Surges to an All-Time High

New York's Medicaid program is growing at its fastest rate in six years, with a quarter-million additional enrollees landing in the safety-net health plan during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic.  Read More

New York’s Health Premiums Remain Among the Highest in the U.S.

The average cost of New Yorkers' health benefits increased by less than the national average in 2019 but remained among the highest in the U.S., according to recently published federal data. Read More

New York’s Medicaid Roller Coaster Takes an Unusual Turn

The state's Medicaid spending was significantly lower than projected in the first quarter, but that's not necessarily a positive sign for state finances. As shown the chart below, t Read More

Filling in the Blanks of New York’s Coronavirus Pandemic

Because New York was hit with the coronavirus early, before testing was widely available, its official count of infections – at just over 400,000 – vastly understates the scale of its outbreak. Read More

Cuomo Administration Ducks Important Questions on Nursing Homes

A new report from the state Health Department tries to deflect blame for thousands of coronavirus deaths in the state's nursing homes—but undermines its own case by withholding data and engaging in tendentious analysis. Read More

New Data Confirm New York State’s Q1 Economic Plunge

New York's economy ended the first quarter of this year in virtual free fall, the latest federal data show. The Empire State's real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 8.2 percent in the first three months of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2 Read More

Nursing Home Vacancy Rate Soars, Hinting at a Higher Coronavirus Toll

The vacancy rate in New York's nursing homes has more than doubled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the death toll among residents may be thousands higher than officially reported. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.