21% of New York City Residents Who Were Randomly Tested Have Covid-19 Antibodies, Government Says


A scientist at the CDC studies the coronavirus. Photo via CDC.

New York state government has been testing people for Covid-19 antibodies at grocery stores through the state, and the governor announced the first results today. People with the antibodies presumably had the disease and their bodies fought it off.

Out of 3,000 tests in the state, nearly 14% of people tested positive. And out of about 1,300 in New Yokr City, 21% came back positive. If that rate holds up, that would imply that 1.7 million New Yorkers have had the virus. (To be sure, people shopping for groceries may not be a representative population, given that they’re out and about.) Officially 141,754 have contracted it.

Antibody testing may be key to reopening the city’s businesses, allowing some people to go back to work — assuming that the presence of antibodies implies that people can’t get the virus again in the short-term. But that’s not yet clear, and the state will need much more information before making any decisions.

NPR recently explained the importance of antibody testing.

NEWS | 30 comments | permalink
    1. lynn says:

      At which grocery stores/neighborhoods was the testing done in NYC? I hope they will eventually come up with testing for people who stayed inside.

    2. ben says:

      It’s worth repeating over and over again that we have no clue what the presence of antibodies to this particular virus means in terms of conferring short- or long-term immunity.
      That said, I’m glad Cuomo’s always pushing for more tests and more data. Unfortunately, some questions can only be answered in time.

    3. Freeman76 says:

      Time to start opening the economy up.

    4. Scott says:

      Truth is, we’d have far fewer deaths if camera hog Cuomo had shut the subways March 1 except for necessary travel. The subways were ALWAYS the vector for this virus.

      And the MTA should have passed out facemasks, or provided instruction on making them at home. The subway superspreader is why we’re where we are now.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        and the elevators in apartment buildings, droplets can stay in that tiny, unventilated space for two hours. i’ve been taking the stairs for a month. if you must go in an elevator wear a mask and goggles.

      • Dale says:

        Monday morning quarterbacking is not what we need right now. I saw this coming and ordered masks back in February, also ordered TP back then as well LOL. So maybe if everyone followed me we would have had a different outcome. However there are many variables at play and no one knows what would have happened IF….. meanwhile CUOMO is doing an amazing job and is the only person in government, other than Pelosi and Schumer, who actually stands up to the POTUS. It’s refreshing to hear him each day.

        • Boris says:

          Cuomo emphatically stated that NY needed 40,000 ventilators but it didn’t turn out that way. He freaked out a lot of people in the process so I’m not so impressed with his daily droning. I think people were so desperate to hear anything that they latched onto Cuomo who got all-star nationwide coverage.

          • geoff says:

            your response is like that of a person who will rush out to buy a fire extinguisher AFTER the kitchen is afire.

            • Boris says:

              I understand your point but the need for 40,000 ventilators wasn’t even close. There are sophisticated mathematical techniques for determining an appropriate level of preparedness for such 100-yr flood-type events and none of them would have called for that level taking into account the high costs to procure and maintain.

          • JM says:

            Yes, it didn’t work out that way because mitigation efforts were impactful. If there was a more significant level of non-compliance with social distancing measures, 40,000 ventilators would have likely been insufficient.

            The Trump administration failed in its primary responsibility for maintaining an adequate nation stockpile of emergency supplies- if they had done their job, ventilators would have never been an issue.

            • Jerry says:

              “if they had done their job, ventilators would have never been an issue.”

              Have they been an issue?

              Perhaps, the feds did exactly what was needed and assess where ventilators need to go and no let the squeaky wheel get the grease. Or perhaps, it was all just luck.

            • Scott says:

              I guess you didn’t read the story about DeBlasio selling thousands of ventilators at auction in 2014 after the city failed to maintain them. Or Cuomo ordering a “study” in 2015 rather than buying more ventilators. NY is the author of its own disaster.

            • JM says:

              If you’re not grieving someone right now, your lucky. Many of us are.

              So, yeah, too many ventilators. Not enough bleach and light bulbs. Got it.

          • LivesOnUWS says:

            40,000 Ventilators were a number the Trump Administrations CDC recommended. Stop yelling Fox News at smart people.

            • Boris says:

              That’s just not accurate. Cuomo insisted on the need for 40,000 ventilators. Plenty of videos & articles exist to verify that.

          • Scrat Mandoo says:

            40,000 ventilators wasn’t a number determined by Cuomo or the state. 40,000 was a number given to NYS by the federal government. So, you can’t pin that one on Cuomo.

      • GG says:

        I’m glad you have reliable data and know so much, because for some silly reason the experts just don’t seem to have the same amount of certainty about such things.

    5. MTS says:

      Any data on the accuracy of the test they’re using? Vitually every test used around the world has been shown to have had a significant margin of error.

    6. dannyb says:

      The NYC Department of Health very loudly emphasizes that this antibody study is VERY early, that the tests are NOT that accurate, and to NOT take steps based on them.
      https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/han/alert/2020/covid-19-status-of-serologic-testing.pdf

    7. notsofast says:

      Everyone’s an expert now. It’s amazing!

    8. Chrigid says:

      I worry that businesses with the lowest-paid, least-protected workers, those who can’t work from home, will reopen quickly, meaning their workers will no longer be entitled to unemployment and possibly other benefits. These are the most vulnerable and I worry that their having to go to work will not only endanger them but also aggravate the spread of the virus.

    9. Molly says:

      If we could all use masks correctly, stay away from each other and wash our hands properly we wouldn’t have to be locked inside right now. My question about this story is, though: given the provenly crap state of our ability to make accurate tests here in the US, how do we know for sure this isn’t antibodies to another Coronavirus, like the common cold? My faith in our collective abilities to do anything right is zippety at the moment.

      • RD says:

        Common cold virus is not a coronavirus. MERS, SARS and SARS-Cov2 are, not common cold or flu.

        • RCP says:

          The CDC disagrees with you, but it’s been so wrong about so much, who knows what’s what.

          • RD says:

            I dont think CDC disagrees either, its just people dont read what CDC is saying, rather read twitter. common cold family is Rhinovirus – there are 100s of these. Flu is a family of different influenza viruses; neither have distinct “corona”.

            • CK says:

              incorrect. the term human coronavirus refers to a large group of viruses including the common cold. MERS, SARs, & Covid19 are part of a less common group of novel coronaviruses. The rhinoviruses and coronaviruses cause the majority of common cold infections. in fact a strain of canine coronavirus is one of the viruses that make up “kennel cough”. Basically semantics here & has no implication on how we move forward. However you should probably know the facts if you are going to lecture people on science & getting news from twitter. Might want to check your sources.

              https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17458772/

            • Walker says:

              There is a version of the coronavirus that is akin to the rhinovirus and other “common cold” viruses. Covid-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus.

        • LivesOnUWS says:

          Actually, the Common Cold is a variant of Coronavirus. This is what Scientists do. I am not one of them but when they tell me this during an interview I tend to believe them.

    10. RCP says:

      Where can you get antibody tested?

      • JL says:

        The tests are available to anyone who wants them. They are BEAUTIFUL tests. They are tremendous, the best in the world.