NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)New York is “turning the corner” on the latest COVID surge, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday.

It’s not time to “spike the football” just yet, Hochul said, but the numbers are finally heading in a good direction, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.

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The 7-day average number of cases reached its highest point last week, but is declining and is projected to continue to drop, according to the governor.

“We had over 90,000 cases one week ago today,” Hochul said. “Forty-nine thousand right now. So that is a very positive trend.”

New York’s positivity and hospitalization rates are falling too. After reaching a peak of 23% positive last week, the state reported 16% positivity Friday.

“We are starting to see a decline of our hospitalizations, down about 245 since the day before,” Hochul said. “Still about 12,000. They’re still too high. Twelve thousand is not something that we are saying is a positive news story. It is still very high, but this will eventually catch up with the trend that’s just beginning.”

The governor said about 42% of people hospitalized in the state went in for something else and learned they had COVID from automatic testing.

New York City-area hospitals are trending down, but upstate ones are “not out of the woods yet,” notably in areas with lower vaccination rates, according to the governor.

Hochul said she believes the positive trends will continue and thanked New Yorkers.

“It’s because you got vaccinated, you wear your masks. You’re kinda griping a little bit about it. I hear it even in my own household sometimes, but you’ve all done the right thing,” Hochul said.

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While the governor is optimistic about the numbers, New Yorkers told us they’re not so sure just yet.

“We’re waiting for the home tests to come out. We’re waiting for the masks to come out to go to people’s homes, and there’s nothing. That’s definitive,” said one woman.

“I would like to believe that, but I’m actually not sure if that’s actually happening,” said Eben Conopask, an Upper East Side resident.

In New Jersey, it’s a similar story:  last week, a peak over 33,000 cases. Friday, over 20,000.

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“The positive tests have begun to creep down. We’ve got two days in a row with a hundred fewer folks in the hospital than the day before. We’ve been clobbered,  as you know, but it feels like we may be seeing early signs of that light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

But we’re not out of the tunnel by far.

“Even though the numbers are less than they were a week ago, they’re still extremely high,” infectious disease specialist Dr. David Goldberg said.

He says the near future will still be challenging.

“What are the concerns for the next few weeks?” CBS2’s Dick Brennan asked.

“The concern is that there is often a lag between the number of cases and the number of deaths … so even as the number of cases is falling, the number of deaths may continue to climb for the next two or three weeks,” Goldberg said.

Watch Andrea Grymes’ report — 

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating its mask guidelines. It now says you should wear “the most protective mask you can” that fits well and “that you will wear consistently.”

It stopped short of recommending one over the other, but said you may choose the N95 mask, the one considered the most protective.

Doctors have been preaching the mask message since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Masks have always worked and always will work. They’re a simple solution. Some studies have shown a 50% reduction in the frequency of transmission,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

For now, New York’s indoor mask rule for public places will remain in effect through February 1, but Hochul said officials are constantly assessing it.

There were 177 COVID-related deaths in the state Thursday.

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CBS2’s Andrea Grymes contributed to this report.

Dick Brennan