New York City had a high rate of infection with the new coronavirus long before its first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 1, researchers report. By that date, more than 1.7 million people in the city (20% of the population) had already been infected, and the COVID-19 death rate was close to 1%, or 10 times deadlier than the flu. To arrive at that conclusion, the researchers analyzed nearly 10,700 plasma samples taken between Feb. 9 and July 5, 2020.