ALBANY (TNS) — Another 86 people in New York died due to COVID-19 on Monday, the third straight day new deaths stayed below 100 after they climbed over 200 on Jan. 13. reported that, despite the drop, new deaths remain much higher than the frequent single-digit totals seen in the summer and early fall.

The number of people in New York hospitals with the coronavirus rose 173 on Monday to 5,977. Hospitalizations have been generally trending lower since soaring over 9,000 at times in January.

Hospitalizations are down 643 over the last week, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

A total of 1,176 people were in New York intensive care units due to COVID on Monday, up 28, and 799 were intubated, up 19.

The statewide percentage of people testing positive for the virus on Monday was 4.23%. The statewide positive rate’s seven-day average was 3.46%, down from 3.52% on Sunday.

The rate had neared 8% at points in January.

In Western New York, the seven-day average for positivity in testing for the virus was 2.44% on Monday, slightly down from 2.47% on Sunday.

Cuomo’s office also confirmed 18 new cases of the United Kingdom coronavirus variant in the state Tuesday. Statewide, New York has confirmed 154 cases of the UK variant.

The state also confirmed a second case of the South African variant in Nassau County on Long Island. The state confirmed its first case of that variant over the weekend.

The new virus variants are concerning to public health officials because of their potential to spread more easily and potentially be more lethal. Cuomo has said he expects a variant will emerge at some point that can evade current Covid vaccines.

New York confirmed 6,654 new COVID cases on Monday and reported another 157,333 test results. The state has now had 1,591,585 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, nursing homes will provide visitors free rapid on-site COVID-19 tests under new state rules designed to make it a little easier for people to visit loved ones.

Visitor testing will be required in counties with COVID-19 positivity rates between 5% and 10%, which rules out Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. Visitor testing is not required in counties with positivity rates below 5%, but the state Health Department is strongly encouraging people visiting nursing homes in those counties to get tested anyway.

The state Health Department will provide rapid tests to nursing homes so they can provide the tests at no cost to visitors.

The state, however, will continue to ban visits at any nursing homes that have had COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days or are conducting outbreak testing. Some nursing homes have not been able to meet the 14-day rule.

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