20% of NYC May Have Already Had Coronavirus, Antibody Tests Show
One-fifth of New York City may have already had the new coronavirus, initial results of antibody testing suggest.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported the findings Thursday, which showed that, out of 3,000 randomly tested New Yorkers, 13.9 percent had been infected with the virus and recovered. Extrapolated to the state's population at large, that would mean 2.7 million New Yorkers had been infected, more than ten times the state's confirmed caseload, NBC New York reported. The findings lend credence to the idea that the virus is spreading more widely than testing has so far indicated.
"This basically quantifies what we've been seeing anecdotally and what we have known," Cuomo said in a press conference reported by NPR, "but it puts numbers to it."
Percent positive by region: Long Island: 16.7% NYC: 21.2% Westchester/Rockland: 11.7% Rest of state: 3.6% (Weighted results)— Andrew Cuomo (@Andrew Cuomo)1587657739.0
New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, had the highest percentage of positive results. Out of around 1,300 people tested in the city, around 21 percent tested positive for the virus antibodies, The New York Times reported.
New York undertook the tests because, as NPR explained, testing for infection with the virus has been limited, meaning mild or asymptomatic cases don't make it into the official tally, which stood at 263,460 as of Friday morning Eastern Time. The tests were conducted outside grocery stores in 19 New York counties.
The New York Times explained the difference between these tests and the tests administered to symptomatic patients:
Unlike so-called diagnostic tests, which determine whether someone is infected, often using nasal swabs, blood tests for Covid-19 antibodies are intended to reveal whether a person was previously exposed and has developed an immune response. Some tests also measure the amount of antibodies present.
While the antibody tests indicate a higher case load, they also suggest a lower death rate. As of Friday morning, the virus had killed at least 20,982 in New York state and 16,388 in New York City. If only confirmed cases are included, the state death rate is around eight percent. If 2.7 million were infected, however, it would fall to around 0.8 percent.
Cuomo said part of the reason for conducting the tests was to guide the process of lifting lockdown measures.
"The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population — where it's higher, where it's lower — to inform you on a reopening strategy," Cuomo said, as The New York Times reported. "Then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it's going up and if it's going up, slow down."
But public health experts have cautioned against relying too heavily on antibody tests to ease social distancing measures.
"It means a lot of us in NYC have been infected. But that's not surprising news — we've seen high levels of cases for over a month," emergency room doctor and Ebola survivor Craig Spencer tweeted of the results, as NBC New York reported. "It means the virus is STILL spreading in NYC. It means that the MAJORITY of us are still very susceptible! It means we still need to #StayHome."
It means a lot of us in NYC have been infected. But that's not surprising news - we've seen high levels of cases fo… https://t.co/azBXKDEcCK— Craig Spencer MD MPH (@Craig Spencer MD MPH)1587669665.0
The World Health Organization has recommended the tests only be used for research purposes, according to The New York Times, and not to make decisions about who can return to work.
"I'm very ambivalent about these tests, because we don't really know yet through the science what it means to have an antibody," Dr. Joan Cangiarella, the vice-chair of clinical operations at NYU Langone Health's pathology department, told The New York Times. "We are hoping these antibodies mean you will be immune for some time, but I don't think the data is fully out there to understand if that means that you're actually immune. And if these antibodies start to decline, what's that time frame? Does it decline in a year from now?" she asked.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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