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As many as 1 in 5 New York City residents may have been exposed to coronavirus, new study says

Posted at 8:47 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 20:47:12-04

One of every five people in New York City, and one of every seven people statewide in New York may have been exposed to coronavirus, and most don't know it, a new, scientific survey of New Yorkers concludes.

Its results were released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

"We have undertaken the largest study of 3,000 people statewide," the governor said at his daily briefing, "to find out what is the infection rate."

The governor announced early conclusions of the test of antibodies from a random sampling of healthy volunteers statewide. The wide-ranging survey tested assumptions like one made by the New York City health commissioner on Thursday morning.

"It wouldn't surprise me," said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the health commissioner, " if, at this point in time, we have probably close to a million New Yorkers who have been exposed to COVID-19."

She'd made that speculation about an hour before the governor released the results of the testing. It, in turn, indicates that the rate of exposure is even higher than Dr. Barbot had thought.

The survey analyzed the blood of healthy volunteers, who'd signed up for the program at grocery stores and box stores across the state. The volunteers' blood was analyzed to see if it contained coronavirus antibodies.

Anyone with antibodies has been exposed to the virus.

The numbers for exposure were much higher than expected.

"The statewide number is 13.9 percent tested positive for having the antibodies," Gov. Cuomo said.

In a state of 19 million residents, that's about one of every seven people. What's more, said the governor, "New York City had 21.2 percent of subjects test positive for coronavirus antibodies."

That means that one of every five people in the five boroughs carries coronavirus antibodies, if the people who volunteered for the study are a representative sampling of the state population.

The governor did stress that these results are preliminary, and that more analysis and testing will be done.

Women made up 52 percent of those tested, and 12 percent of females tested were positive. Meanwhile, men made up 48 percent of the testing group and 15.9 percent of those men were positive.

Of the Long Islanders tested, 16.7 percent were found to have COVID antibodies, while 11.7 percent of those tested from Westchester and Rockland counties were positive.

Of those in the testing group from all other areas of the state, only 3.6 percent were found to have the antibodies.

When it came to a racial or ethnic breakdown, 22.5 percent of Hispanic participants and 22.1 percent of black participants tested were found to have COVID antibodies, while just 9.1 percent of white people tested were positive for the antibodies.

Early results found that 11.7 percent of Asian participants tested positive.

This article was written by James Ford for WPIX.