Skip to main content

COVID-19 Testing, Epidemic Features, Hospital Outcomes, and Household Prevalence, New York State-March 2020

Our take —

This descriptive study characterized the demographics and health outcomes of the initial 229 detected cases of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York State. Results highlight how quickly transmission occurred, the sizable burden of onward transmission within households, and the increased burden on older populations. Results may not be representative of cases in New York State, but represent important health surveillance data that combine information from hospital, community and household testing.

Study design


Study population and setting

This study concerns the first 229 cases of COVID-19 and their contacts in New York State from March 2 to March 30, 2020. Investigators received data from contact tracing efforts by the New York State Department of Health. Testing was conducted regardless of symptoms, thus infection rates include both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.

Summary of Main Findings

During this time period, there were 141,495 tests conducted, of which 47,326 were positive for COVID-19 (33%). Of the 229 first cases, 13% were hospitalized and 2% died by March 30. One hundred forty-eight of these cases had completed symptom data, and 76% reported fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Among index cases, 38% of household contacts became infected. The prevalence of infection increased with age among the contacts; it was 23% among those <5 years of age and up to 68% among those 65 years and older.

Study Strengths

The study has a sizable sample and provides data on both asymptomatic and symptomatic cases from New York, currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. This provides a more realistic reflection of transmission compared to other studies that only include data of symptomatic cases.


Investigators note that about half of the cases had missing data on demographics, risk factors, and/or comorbidities. Thus, in-depth risk factor analyses are limited.

Value added

The study affirms the high prevalence of COVID-19 cases among households of prior cases, in alignment with other studies.

This review was posted on: 10 June 2020