A medical technician works at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company in New York on September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Long Island has reported more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the nine months since the first patient was diagnosed in the region, New York State data shows.

Nassau County had 50,407 confirmed COVID-19 cases and Suffolk County had 49,604, the state Department of Health reported Monday. Cases on the Island account for about a fifth of infections statewide. The milestone comes as cases surge across the nation and the infection rate for LI has risen above 1 percent for the past week, hitting 1.9 percent on Tuesday, and the public remains skeptical of the vaccine approval process.

“Despite this week being the worst on record for new COVID-19 cases nationwide, Nassau continues to hold the line below 2 percent positivity  1.4 percent today,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Sunday while referring to the U.S. recently setting records for the number of cases reported in a single day. “It won’t be easy to keep this position, so we need to continue using the common sense that got us here.”

Last week, New York State became the fourth state in the nation to surpass a half a million cases of the virus. As of Sunday, The Empire State had 511,368 cases. There were 9.2 million cases nationwide and 46.8 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“All around us, the COVID infection rate is going up,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Monday. “You see it in states all across the nation, in countries around the globe, and in contiguous states. So we should be on high alert and we should be even more diligent, because the virus spreads across state boundaries, and we’re in the party season.”

Nassau and Suffolk continue to rank among the top 50 counties for coronavirus cases nationwide, although they have fallen toward the middle of the list as cases surge in other states, according to Johns Hopkins. Nassau fell from having the most cases of any county outside of New York City in April to 19th on Monday while Suffolk, which was also in the top 10 during the peak, ranked 22nd, the university data shows.

LI has seen 4,237 cases of Long Islanders who succumbed to COVID-19 — 2,216 in Nassau and 2,021 in Suffolk — as of Sunday. Both counties rank among the top 20 counties for coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins, with Nassau ranking 12th and Suffolk placing 15th. There have been 25,838 people who died amid the global pandemic statewide, 231,263 nationwide, and 1.2 million worldwide, data shows.

Despite the growing number of cases, less than half of New York metro area residents plan to get a COVID vaccine when it becomes available, according to the latest Mount Sinai South Nassau public health poll released last week. Only 46 percent of those polled said they would get a COVID vaccine. Among those who said they would not get it, two-thirds said they believe the vaccine is being rushed and they question its safety. 

“We clearly have our work cut out for us in terms of educating the public on the safety of a COVID vaccine, assuming one is fully developed, tested demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, and approved by the FDA,” said Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a national expert on infectious diseases. “The poll results show that there is significant concern about the approval process. It will be up to us in public health and in the government to make the case for a COVID vaccine once it becomes available.”

Related Story: COVID-19 Hospitalization Uptick Eyed on Long Island

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