County suffers 3 more COVID deaths, 346 new cases

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“Wear that mask, save a life,” said County Executive Daniel McCoy, urging people to protect those they love. “If you don’t love anyone, wear it to protect yourself.”

ALBANY COUNTY — On New Year’s Day, Albany County broke the 300 mark as Executive Daniel McCoy announced 346 new COVID-19 infections.

He also announced three more deaths from the disease.

The latest victims are a man in his sixties, a woman in her sixties, and a woman in her seventies. This brings the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 226.

“I was hoping to start off the New Year on the right foot ...,” said McCoy. “This is easily the highest single increase we’ve ever seen.”

The county’s former single-day high for positive test results was 269 on Dec. 24. The trend has been upward ever since Halloween.

“We knew we’d be over 300,” said McCoy. “I just didn’t think we’d be this high.”

McCoy said he regretted having to call a press conference, forcing his staff to work on New Year’s Day. “I won’t have to be here if you do the right thing,” he said. 

As always, he stressed the need to wear masks, wash hands, and stay six feet from others.

“Wear that mask, save a life,” said the county executive, urging people to protect those they love. “If you don’t love anyone, wear it to protect yourself.”

“We still have not felt the full effects of Christmas,” McCoy said of the travel and gatherings that came with the holiday, which was followed by New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“You have to protect yourself … You’ve got to think about the workers: the nurses, the doctors, firefighters, EMS, all the essential workers,” said McCoy.

He again focused on residents between the ages of 20 and 29, a group that has by far the most cases in the county. So far, 2,739 residents in that age group have tested positive.

“We know you don’t have signs or symptoms,” said McCoy. “What you’re doing is being selfish because you’re infecting your parents or your grandparents or your aunts or your uncles or someone in your group with underlying health issues.”

Throughout the New Year’s Day press conference, he urged patience. 

“The vaccine’s going to take time to get out and you have to be patient,” he said.

“We’ll be setting up a POD next week,” he said of a Point of Dispensing for COVID-19 vaccines. “Anyone over the age of 65 with underlying health issues, get identified by your personal doctor …. Get on that list to get the vaccine.”

McCoy also pointed out that the surge in cases has added more work for the already overburdened county health department.

“These are high numbers for the health department to work with … It takes time … Please be patient,” said McCoy.

Residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 are urged, until they receive a call from the health department, to check the department’s website for instructions on how to isolate. Residents who have been exposed to someone who tested positive are urged, while they wait for a call, to check the website for instructions on quarantine.

McCoy said the process can be speeded along if residents who have tested positive make lists of where they have been and who they have seen.

As of Friday morning, Albany County has had 11,784 confirmed cases of COVID-19, McCoy said.

Of the 346 new cases, 263 did not have a clear source of infection identified, 58 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, 24 are health-care workers or residents of congregate settings, and one reported traveling out of state.

The five-day average for new daily positives jumped to 258.2 from 220.2. There are now 1,730 active cases in the county, up from 1,647 on Thursday.

The number of residents under quarantine increased to 3,169 from 2,956. So far, 38,027 people have completed quarantine. Of those, 10,054 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 253 recoveries since Thursday.

Seventeen county residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 overnight. There are 114 residents currently hospitalized from the virus — a net decrease of six. There are now 21 patients in intensive-care units, up from 20 yesterday.

“We have to be ready to brace for overcrowding and not having enough room in the hospitals,” said McCoy.

Of the state’s 10 regions, the Capital Region continues to have the lowest percentage of ICU beds available, at 19 percent, according to figures released by the governor’s office on Friday.  The region has 239 ICU beds of which 194 are currently occupied. Statewide, 30 percent of ICU beds are occupied.

The Capital Region currently has 394 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, which represents 0.04 percent of the region’s population and leaves 25 percent of hospital beds occupied.

Two regions have a worse rate: Central New York has 0.05 percent of its population hospitalized, leaving 22 percent of hospital beds free, and the Mohawk Valley has 0.06 percent hospitalized, leaving 24 percent of its hospital beds available.

Statewide, 0.04 percent of New Yorkers are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 31 percent of the state’s hospital beds are available.

The Capital Region has the third highest rate of infection, at 9.57 percent for a seven-day average. The two areas with a worse rate are the Finger Lakes at 9.70 percent and the Mohawk Valley at 9.69 percent.

Statewide, the positivity rate is 7.20 percent.

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