Over the last several weeks, New York officials have started to emphasize a new metric in how to track COVID-19 cases in New York.
The change is due to how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services no longer requires the reporting of rapid and antigen testing performed for COVID-19 screenings at schools, prisons, employee testing, long-term care facilities and at pharmacies, among other locations like pop-up sites.
Instead of aggregate case counts, New York and other states are now using cases per 100,000 residents, and not the more traditional percentage of positive results of those who have been tested.
Hochul on Wednesday in Syracuse alluded to this, calling the measurement of cases per hundred thousand a more reliable measurement of COVID-19 cases. The change also comes after New York has largely closed mass testing sites and switched its focus to at-home testing, which can be more difficult for health officials to track.
"When we put these up, there were no other options. There were no home test kits," Hochul told reporters. "We would go an entire day and have only one person show up. That was a lot of health care resources dedicated to a situation that was not beneficial."
At-home tests have become more widely available this year at the same time, with the federal government distributing kits to American households, as well as test kits at pharmacies.
"The circumstances have changed and I think that's for the better," Hochul said. "We encourage people to get tested regularly. If they get the sniffles, it could be spring allergies and it could be COVID. So, don't take your chance."
New York has reported a rise in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the last several weeks, attributed to the circulation of BA.2 subvariant of the virus. Overall, New York has seen its COVID-19 case rate grow from 29.99 per 100,000 people on Sunday to 31.67 per 100,000 on Tuesday.
At the same time, hospitalizations, considered a lagging indicator, have also increased. There are now 1,404 people hospitalized in New York who are COVID positive. Of those patietns, 51.8% are hospitalized for reasons other than COVID, but had tested positive upon admission.