New York’s weekly tally of COVID-19 cases fell about 6% last week, but slight upticks in infections across parts of upstate raised risk levels in some communities as authorities raced to launch a COVID-19 booster push during the back-to-school season.
New York reported 32,183 new cases of coronavirus in the week ending Sunday, down from 34,401 cases the prior week.
New York ranked 26th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Nationally, COVID-19 cases increased nearly 11% from the week before, with 654,873 cases reported. Across the country, 16 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.
While New York’s overall COVID-19 case count dropped last week, large swaths of upstate fell into the “medium risk” category under federal guidelines after spending much of the summer at a “low risk” level.
The risk assessment is based on COVID-19 infection rates and strain on local health systems, placing many communities in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and Hudson Valley on alert as the resumption of in-person learning and colder weather in coming weeks drives more people indoors where the virus spreads more easily.
Still, only five counties fell into the “high risk” category spanning parts of New York City, as well as Orange and Sullivan counties.
State and federal health officials urged people to wear masks indoors in public spaces in all counties within the high-risk category, regardless of vaccination status, to help curb the virus’ spread.
Meanwhile, federal officials are preparing to potentially launch a COVID-19 booster that targets the omicron subvariant BA.5 in coming weeks, despite ongoing debate over the fact it has relied, so far, on mice trials as opposed to the traditional human trials. If approved, the booster would be available to ages 12 and above, officials said.
Further, New York and many other states recently adopted updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 testing and quarantine, saying that if a person is exposed to COVID, they no longer need to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. Instead, they should wear a mask for 10 days and test on day five.
Last week, New York echoed those guidelines, saying that the state will no longer mount mandatory group screening testing in schools or ask exposed students or staff to quarantine.
In New York, 162 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday, up from 157 people COVID-19 deaths the prior week.
Across New York, cases fell in 32 counties, with the best declines in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.​
>> See how your community has fared with recent coronavirus cases​
Within New York, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in:
The Centers for Disease Control says high levels of community transmission begin at 100 cases per 100,000 per week.
Weekly case counts rose in 30 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week’s pace were in Erie, Broome and Monroe counties.
A total of 5,973,533 people in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 71,012 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 94,190,979 people have tested positive and 1,043,840 people have died.
>> Track coronavirus cases across the United States
USA TODAY analyzed federal hospital data as of Sunday, Aug. 28. Likely COVID patients admitted in the state:
Likely COVID patients admitted in the nation:
Hospitals in 20 states reported more COVID-19 patients than a week earlier, while hospitals in 21 states had more COVID-19 patients in intensive-care beds. Hospitals in 25 states admitted more COVID-19 patients in the latest week than a week prior, the USA TODAY analysis of U.S. Health and Human Services data shows.
The USA TODAY Network is publishing localized versions of this story on its news sites across the country, generated with data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control. If you have questions about the data or the story, contact Mike Stucka at mstucka@gannett.com.

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