Roughly 16.7 percent of Long Island residents in a random survey conducted by New York State had antibodies to the Covid-19 coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday morning.

The state conducted the survey this week of 3,000 New Yorkers at 40 locations, mostly grocery stores and big box stores in 19 counties. It’s the largest antibody survey performed in the United States to date. Germany had done a similar study of 3,000 people in a population of 83 million people, while New York’s population is just 19 million.

Statewide, Mr. Cuomo said 13.9 percent of New Yorkers had antibodies to the virus, meaning they had been exposed to the virus at some point but had recovered from the disease after their immune systems began producing antibodies.

The governor said 21.2 percent of New York City residents had antibodies to the virus. In Westchester, 11.7 percent had antibodies, and in the rest of upstate New York just 3.6 percent had previously been exposed to the virus and had prodoced antibodies.

Mr. Cuomo said that, if the survey proved to be an accurate representation of the virus’s spread, 2.7 million of New York’s residents have already had Covid-19.

To date, more than 257,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the coronavirus, just 1.3 percent of the state’s population, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the virus since it was first found in Wuhan, China. 

But New York didn’t begin testing for the disease until well after it was here, said Mr. Cuomo, and even people here who believe they may have had the virus in the past two months have had difficulty getting tested if they did not have severe enough symptoms or known prolonged contact with infected people.

Mr. Cuomo did say these are the preliminary results of Phase I of the state’s antibody testing, which is expected to ramp up over the coming weeks.

He did say the results come with some caveats — all the people who were tested were out of the house shopping, so they weren’t isolated or quarantined and they were less likely to be essential workers.

“We have to analyze what that does to the numbers,” he said. 

Mr. Cuomo added that, if these numbers do hold out, it could mean the death rate for Covid-19 is lower than the current statistics show.

With 15,302 deaths statewide as of Thursday morning, the state’s death rate is about 5.9 percent when based on the 257,000 confirmed positive cases. But if 2.7 million New Yorkers have had Covid-19, he said, the death rate would be just 0.5 percent.

Mr. Cuomo said that number also comes with caveats — it doesn’t include the large number of people, especially in New York City, who died at home without a Covid-19 diagnosis, and it doesn’t include deaths that may have occurred before New York began testing for the disease two months ago.

Mr. Cuomo also had harsh words for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Wednesday that he would prefer states file for bankruptcy than receive more federal aid.

“This is one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” he said. “You want to see the market fall through the cellar? You want to see a collapse of this national economy?”

Mr. Cuomo also decried Mr. McConnell’s description of helping the states as a “blue state bailout,” because most of the early cases have been in states that tend to vote Democratic.

“Sixteen thousand people died in New York but they were Democrats so why should we help them?” said Mr. Cuomo. “New York State puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out. We put in $116 billion more than we take out. His state takes out $148 billion more than they put in… Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here? It is your state that is living on the money we generate. Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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