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COVID-19: New Report Examines How Hudson Valley Cluster Community Saw 32% Drop In Virus Rate

New York is monitoring certain micro-clusters of COIVD-19 cases. Photo Credit: ny.gov
New York is targeting micro-clusters where COVID-19 has broken out. Photo Credit: ny.gov

Some are questioning the COVID-19 numbers coming out of a Hudson Valley Orthodox Jewish community after the infection rate spiked to the highest in the state before suddenly plummeting back to earth.

Last month, the state was reporting that the positivity rate in Kiryas Joel, a village in Orange County, jumped to 34 percent, prompting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put certain restrictions in the state in the community and surrounding areas.

Cuomo later eased the restrictions in the Orange County cluster, though some remain in place in Rockland County.

According to a New York Times report, some patients in the community have refused testing, while others who show symptoms have allegedly been encouraged not to submit to testing to keep the numbers down.

Since the outbreak began, there have been 1,588 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kiryas Joel - also known as Palm Tree - the second most in Orange County behind only the City of Newburgh’s 1,823 confirmed cases.

“The course of events in Orange County has raised deep suspicions among some health experts about the reliability of the data, reflecting broader concerns about whether top officials in New York and around the country are tracking the outbreak in ways that may not accurately capture how much the virus is spreading,” the report states.

Orange County Health Commissioner reportedly expressed concerns about lifting the restrictions in the micro-cluster, saying that it’s difficult to gauge the actual number of infections if tests are refused.

“To go from a 34 percent positivity rate down to a 4 percent positivity rate when the “micro-cluster/ hot zone” schools did not actually shut down — and just converted to “child care”— is something many people here are skeptical about,” she stated.

On Monday, Nov. 2, the positivity rate in the "micro-cluster" focus areas was 3.5 percent. The statewide positivity rate excluding these areas was 1.48 percent.

Of the 96,101 tests reported yesterday, 1,633, or 1.7 percent, were positive. Total hospitalizations were at 1,151 COVID-19 patients and 14 new fatalities were reported.

“In the micro-cluster zones, we’ve been working with schools in the red and the orange zones,” Cuomo previously said. “The schools, private schools, Catholic schools, yeshivas, want to be open in the red and orange zones, and we’ve been working with them to try to find ways to keep people safe.”

The complete New York Times report highlighting Kiryas Joel can be found here.

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