The Peconic Bay Medical Center COVID-19 drive-up testing site in Riverhead on Jan. 2. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases in Suffolk County and across New York State continues to tick downward.

Since what appears to be the peak of the winter surge late last week, the 7-day average of daily new cases statewide has fallen 4.5%.

Suffolk has seen an even sharper drop. The 7-day average of daily new cases in Suffolk fell from 5,661 on Jan. 7 to 5,217 on Jan. 11, a 7.9% decline. Suffolk’s one-day record for the number of new laboratory-confirmed cases since the pandemic began hit 6,992 on Jan. 7. Since then, both new cases — and the number of tests reported — have fallen significantly. Yesterday, Suffolk reported 3,942 positive cases on Jan. 11.

While the decline is encouraging, Gov. Kathy Hochul reminded New Yorkers “cases still remain high and we are nowhere near the end of the winter surge.”

The nearly 4,000 new cases reported in Suffolk is still higher than any daily case number reported in the county prior to Dec. 28, as the highly contagious omicron variant circulating in the region sent new cases soaring.

The omicron variant now represents more than 95% of the viruses in circulation in New York, according to the State Department of Health.

Even as new confirmed cases appear to be declining, hospitalizations and deaths, both lagging indicators, continue to climb. Suffolk reported 1,041 COVID-19 hospitalizations for Jan. 11, up from 875 a week earlier. Daily new admissions were up nearly 16% over the week, patients in ICU climbed 14%.

The state health department has begun collecting data on patients hospitalized “due to COVID or complications of COVID” versus those hospitalized “where COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission.” So far, in the Long Island region, reports show 38% of patients hospitalized who have COVID-19, were admitted for reasons other than COVID. Statewide, that number is 42%.

Suffolk County reported 101 COVID-19 fatalities over the past week. Statewide, 1,057 fatalities were reported during the same period.

Hochul continues to urge people to get vaccinated, — and to have their children vaccinated — including a booster shot, if eligible.

“And let’s continue to use the tools we know will help stop the spread: Wear a non-cloth mask and stay home if you’re feeling sick,” Hochul said in her daily update yesterday.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.