New York state governor lays out "micro-cluster" strategy against COVID-19 in op-ed

Wearing masks, voters line up with social distance to vote during the in-person early voting outside a polling station in Madison Square Garden in New York, the United States, Oct. 24, 2020. Early voting began across New York State on Saturday, offering voters nine days to cast their ballots prior to Election Day. (Photo: Xinhua/Wang Ying)

NEW YORK, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- New York state is managing its COVID-19 response with a more finely tuned approach called "micro-cluster" strategy, using data and metrics to guide decisions, according to an op-ed written by Governor Andrew Cuomo and posted on the New York Daily News on Sunday.

"In New York, we are deploying a new strategy of targeting viral 'micro-clusters,'" said Cuomo, explaining that testing and contact-tracing to date have largely been used to monitor a statewide or regional level infection spread.

On this large a testing scale, once an increase is detected, the virus has already infected many people and is hard to slow, not to mention contain, and any mitigation efforts can only be employed over a large geographic area, making them highly disruptive, said the governor.

"Monitoring micro-clusters involves increasing the testing regimen to identify low-level spreads on a small geographic footprint. This allows containment before a large number of people are infected and reduces the economic and political disruption in implementing new restrictions," said Cuomo.

To detect these smaller surges, a larger number of tests must be performed, he said.

"Testing must move beyond regional or even county-level data to a granular neighborhood-level analysis capable of detecting a number of cases, often in the single digits in a limited area of several square miles," he added.

The governor tweets the state's COVID-19 test positivity rates each morning or noon, keeping his people posted about the extent to which the pandemic has invaded their lives.

Of the 120,829 tests reported Saturday, 1,632 were positive, or 1.35 percent of the total, Cuomo tweeted on Sunday.

As of Sunday noon, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 33,418 coronavirus deaths in New York state over the past seven months, the worst among all the states of the country.