UAlbany vaccine site opens on Friday

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

A tent has been set up on the uptown University at Albany campus to serve as a POD or point of dispensing for COVID-19 vaccines. It opens on Friday at 8 a.m. for eligible residents who have appointments.

ALBANY COUNTY — Deaths and infection are outpacing COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Three more county residents have died of the virus since Wednesday and 273 more residents are infected with the disease, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced in a release on Thursday morning.

Also on Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and NewYork-Presbyterian announced a COVID-19 vaccination site in Washington Heights in Manhattan — one of a handful of new sites statewide.

A vaccination site will open Friday at 8 a.m. at the uptown campus of the University at Albany, but the slots for shots are already filled through March. Fifteen additional sites are planned statewide.

The Washington Heights site is part of Cuomo’s effort to see that Black, brown, and poor communities receive vaccinations.

The state’s vaccine supply is limited by the federal government, Cuomo’s release on the new site noted. Based on federal guidelines that the state is following, more than 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the COVID vaccine, but the state receives only about 300,000 doses per week from the federal government. 

New York, based on original guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had been giving vaccinations to residents in two tiers: 1a, largely for at-risk health-care workers and for residents of and workers at nursing homes, and 1b for essential workers and people aged 75 and older.

On Tuesday, the CDC expanded eligibility to include people 65 and older, and people with underlying health conditions.

On Thursday, the Long Island Delegation of Republican state senators put out a release criticizing Cuomo for a “failed vaccine rollout.”

“Governor Cuomo’s vaccine rollout can only be described as utter chaos. Millions of New Yorkers have no idea when or where they can receive their life-saving shots, and they feel totally abandoned by their state government,” said Senator Phil Boyle in the release.

The Senate Republican Conference’s Long Island delegation also called for repeal of the governor’s emergency powers. “It is time to restore the authority back into the hands of the legislature,” the release said.

Both the State Senate and State Assembly are dominated by Democrats.

According to the CDC website, as of Thursday night, New York State has received 1,872,625 doses of vaccine and given 688,576 vaccinations; of those, 58,627 were second doses.

Both of the vaccines — made by Moderna and by Pfizer and BioNTech — require two doses to be fully effective.


Erie County judge relaxes dining rules

Also on Thursday, Kumiki Gibson, counsel to the governor, released a statement on Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision by Erie County Justice Henry J. Nowak, which allowed some restaurants in an orange zone to follow the less stringent indoor dining rules for yellow zones.

Cuomo had set up a micro-cluster system to tamp down on COVID-19 outbreaks. In yellow precautionary zones, indoor and outdoor dining are permitted with a maximum of four people per table.

In orange warning zones, only outdoor dining — with no more than four diners per table — along with take-out or delivery is permitted.

Across the state, all bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m.

Most of Erie County has been an orange zone since Nov. 18.

“We are reviewing the decision,” Gibson said. “While that process is ongoing, to ensure uniformity and fairness, all restaurants operating in orange zones can now operate under rules governing yellow zones.

“We disagree with the court’s decision and its impact on public health as federal CDC data clearly demonstrates indoor dining increases COVID-19 spread. From the start of this pandemic, the state has acted based on facts and the advice of public health experts, and we will continue that approach.”

The Supreme Court is the lowest run in the state’s three-tiered system.


Newest numbers

The three Albany County residents who died of COVID-19 on Wednesday — two men and a woman — were all in their eighties. Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 262.

As of Thursday morning, Albany County has had 15,021 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to McCoy’s release.

Of the 273 new cases, 214 did not have a clear source of infection identified, 31 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, 27 were health-care workers or residents of congregate settings, and one had traveled out of state.

The five-day average for new daily positives has increased to 267.2 from 266.2. There are now 1,981 active cases in the county, down from 1,987 on Wednesday.

The number of county residents under quarantine increased to 3,438 from 3,343. So far, 44,879 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 13,040 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 266 recoveries since Wednesday.

There were 18 new hospitalizations overnight, and there are 158 county residents currently hospitalized from the virus — a net increase of seven. There are now seven patients in intensive-care units, down from eight on Wednesday.

Of the state’s 10 regions, the Capital Region is tied with the Mohawk Valley for the worst rate of available hospital beds, at 24 percent, according to Cuomo’s Thursday press release. Currently 520 residents are hospitalized, which represents 0.05 percent of the region’s population.

Statewide, 0.05 percent of New Yorkers are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 32 percent of beds are available.

For the first time in a month, the Capital Region moved out of last place for available ICU beds, at 20 percent. The Mohawk Valley has a worse rate, at 19 percent. Currently, 202 of the region’s 255 ICU beds are filled.

Statewide, 27 percent of ICU beds are available.

The Capital Region has an infection rate, as a seven-day average, of 8.45 percent, the third highest rate in the state. The Mohawk Valley has a rate of 9.18 percent and Long Island has a rate of  8.69 percent.

Statewide,  the positivity rate is 6.95 percent.

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