An estimated 13.9% of New York's population, or 2.7 million people, may have developed coronavirus antibodies in their blood, suggesting they contracted the virus and have since recovered, according to results from a preliminary study of 3,000 people in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the findings Thursday in his daily press briefing.
"It was vital for any state, I believe, to first get a baseline study of where you are on the infection rate," Cuomo said.
Among those tested in New York City, 21.2% were positive for the antibodies.
The antibody tests were conducted over two days at grocery stories and box stores in 19 counties and 40 localities across the state, Cuomo said.
He warned that the results were only preliminary and that there were multiple caveats to consider, including that the sample did not include children or those in isolation and was likely underrepresented by essential workers.
Cuomo also gave a demographic breakdown of the tests by gender and race, with 12% of females and 15.9% of males testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Black, Latino and Asian New Yorkers tested positive at higher rates than white New Yorkers, with 22.1% and 22.5% and 11.7%, respectively. Among white people in the sample, 9.1% tested positive for the antibodies.
If the new estimated infection rate is accurate, that would bring the death rate in the state down to about 0.5%, Cuomo said. He cautioned that the official state death toll still paints an incomplete picture, because it does not include probable or at-home deaths due to the coronavirus.
More antibody tests are expected be conducted in the coming days. Officials across the country have said that testing is crucial in the efforts to open the economy back up.