Nearly 14 per cent of 3,000 people tested for coronavirus antibodies in New York state tested positive, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.
The preliminary results came from a state antibody study that randomly tested people at supermarkets, he told a daily news conference.
“It means these are people who were infected and who developed the antibodies,” Cuomo explained.
The governor said the data could point to a lower death rate than some estimates.
If they translate to the true incidence of new coronavirus, they would mean that 2.7 million have been infected.
“If you look at what we have now as a death toll, which is 15,500, that would be about 0.5 per cent death rate,” he said, while cautioning that this was based on preliminary data and that the death toll “is going to go up” and currently does not account for at-home or presumed deaths.
He also noted that the results could be skewed as “they were not people who were in their home” or isolated, who may have a lower rate of infection.
Cuomo said that the antibody testing would be expanded to include larger sample sizes.
The governor also called Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that local governments could declare bankruptcy “one of the really dumb ideas of all time”.
He said it was “vicious” of McConnell to call Democratic states’ request for federal funding a “blue-state bailout”.
New York is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
In total, the country has seen more than 46,000 deaths. (dpa/NAN)