NEW YORK — Every day, New York State has reported tens of thousands of positive COVID-19 tests during this current omicron surge, but Dr. Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, said he believes the true number of COVID cases is much higher.
“We have always been undercounting new infections,” Dr. Nash said Monday.
One of those unreported infections belongs to Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
“I feel good that I got through it, and I am no longer contagious, but officially the city doesn’t know about my case,” he said.
Levine said he tested negative on a lab PCR test, but a few days later he was positive on a COVID-19 home antigen test. And this is likely happening across the city and state. The official case count is mostly from lab PCR tests.
According to Dr. Nash, case counts are important. It shows us what the virus is doing and where it is spreading. If you only go by hospitalizations and deaths, the virus could be surging, and we may not even know it.
“These hospitalization metrics lag the case counts by weeks,” he said.
On Monday, New York State reported 51,698 daily cases.
“Unfortunately, I’m going to say is a result of the holiday weekend. Those numbers are probably going to be much higher tomorrow,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Those are the counted cases. But what if you have a positive home test? In New York City, there is the Test and Trace hotline at 212-COVID19.
“The problem is that they are overwhelmed. And there can be waits of an hour or two just to get through and it’s just not practical,” Levine said.
He has a solution for that.
“One thing we can do to at least allow you to, in a reliable way, register your case from a home test is offer a web portal,” he said.
According to Borough President Levine, a self-reporting website would allow not only more cases to be counted, but people could also be connected to services they need like an isolation hotel room.
PIX11 News reached out to New York City’s Test and Trace Corp, but as of deadline, they had not responded.