New York State is "turning the corner" on the surge in positive cases of Covid-19 due to the Omicron variant, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday during a news conference from the University at Albany.
The seven-day average of cases declined from 90,000 statewide a week ago to 49,027 cases on Thursday, she said.
"You heard it here first. I've been waiting to say that, turning the corner," said Hochul.
The governor called it "a very positive trend" that she expected to continue.
"I want to thank New Yorkers. Thank you for hanging in there with us through 2020, 2021 (and), hopefully, not too much of 2022," she said.
"It's because you got vaccinated, you're wearing your masks – kind of griping a little bit about it; I hear it, even in my own household sometimes, but you've all done the right thing. And that is why we'll be at the forefront of the states seeing a long-awaited, much-anticipated decline," Hochul added.
The Covid-19 positivity rate across the state is also declining, she said.
Hospitalizations and deaths resulting from Covid-19 are also on the decline, which the governor called lagging indicators of a downward trend in positive cases of the virus. There was a decline of 245 hospitalizations from Thursday to Friday, down to about 12,000, according to Hochul.
"That's still too high. I mean, 12,000 is not something that we're saying is a positive news story. It's still very high, but this will eventually catch up with the trend that's just beginning," said Hochul, who also said 177 people died of Covid.
The governor said there is a discrepancy between upstate and downstate hospitalization rates. It could be due to simple timing. New York City was the first area of the state to experience a pronounced spike in Omicron cases. Western New York and other regions have seen it as well, but it began a week or so after New York City's surge.
"Upstate is still not out of the woods yet. Downstate numbers are trending down," she said.
However, Western New York's numbers appear to be flattening out, said Hochul.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told The Buffalo News on Thursday that some new data from the past few days show Erie County may finally be at or over its peak with regard to Omicron cases. The county has stopped seeing a huge surge in new cases from week to week, though at-home testing may affect county numbers, he said.
A closer look at recent hospitalization numbers also suggests the number of patients hospitalized for Covid-related illnesses is no longer growing, he said.
"I hope we're peaking," he said. "I've got to hope we're peaking after everything we've seen."
In recent days, new data has been shared indicating that while many more patients are testing positive for Covid-19, that doesn't mean that they are hospitalized because they have Covid-19.
He also noted, however, that about seven residents a day are still dying from Covid-19 and overall hospitalization numbers are still high.
The governor said high positivity rates in areas around the state that don't have high vaccination rates is a bad combination. She added that hospital capacity must also be constantly monitored.
Hochul said that elective surgeries had to be suspended on a two-week basis at hospitals in the Finger Lakes and Mohawk Valley regions.
"We evaluate it every Thursday and decide what we're going to do," said Hochul.