Albany County reports seven more deaths from COVID-19

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, shown here at his press briefing on Friday, announced seven more deaths of county residents from COVID-19 on Saturday. The deaths were not overnight.

ALBANY COUNTY — While the Albany County executive, Daniel McCoy, reported seven more COVID-19 deaths in a release on Saturday morning, he also said the deaths were not new.

“It is devastating to report so many deaths on a single day and my deepest sympathies go out to all of the families. However, these latest victims of the virus did not die yesterday,” McCoy said in the release. “There was a reporting delay of four deaths and we learned the other three people had passed away in mid-December. I am looking into why the December deaths were just reported and they all lived in congregate settings.”

While nursing homes are required to report deaths to the state, they are not required to report them to the county. Albany County has had problems in finding out about nursing-home deaths before and has tried to come up with a system for learning of them in a timely fashion.

The seven deaths reported on Saturday were of a woman in her sixties, a woman in her seventies, two women and a man in their eighties, and a woman and a man in their nineties.

This brings the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 272.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a Saturday morning release, reported that New York State has another case of the highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 known as B.1.1.7. The latest confirmed case is in Tompkins County, bringing the state’s total to 17.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website page meant to track the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant has not been updated recently. As of Saturday afternoon, the site still reported just four cases for New York State and 88 nationwide.

The first New York case of B.1.1.7 was confirmed, by Albany’s Wadsworth Laboratory, in Saratoga County, where other cases were later confirmed as well as cases in Nassau County.

As of Saturday morning, Albany County has had 15,524 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 257 new cases since Friday, according to McCoy’s release.

Of the new cases,  200 did not have a clear source of infection identified, 39 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, 17 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 278 from 269.8. There are now 2,097 active cases in the county, up from 2,035 on Friday.

The number of county residents under quarantine decreased to 3,179 from 3,214. So far, 46,158 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 13,427 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 178 recoveries since yesterday.

There were 15 new hospitalizations overnight, and there are 167 county residents currently hospitalized from the virus, which is one fewer than Friday’s record-setting number.

Of the state’s 10 regions, the Capital Region continues to have one of the worst rates for availability of hospital beds, at 25 percent, according to the governor’s release. Only the Mohawk Valley, at 24 percent, has a lower percentage.

Currently, 530 Capital Region residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is 0.05 percent of the region’s population.

Statewide, 0.05 percent of New Yorkers are hospitalized, leaving 32 percent of hospital beds available.

The Capital Region has the worst rate for available intensive-care-unit beds at 19 percent. Currently, 218 of the region’s 264 ICU beds are filled.

Statewide, 27 percent of ICU beds are available.

The Capital Region’s infection rate, while improving like the rest of the state since the post-holiday high, is the third worst in New York, at 7.87 percent, as a seven-day average. The Mohawk Valley has a rate of 8.40 percent and Long Island has a rate of 8.06 percent.

Statewide, the positivity rate is 6.54 percent.

In Saturday’s release, Cuomo reiterated his familiar message: “New York is fighting to beat back COVID as we distribute the limited vaccine available as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said. “We’re deploying all the tools in our toolbox — making sure hospitals have enough capacity and conducting ever-higher numbers of tests — to keep New Yorkers as safe as possible. But our actions as individuals and as communities to stay socially distanced, wear masks and wash our hands are of vital importance, as is the willingness of local governments to enforce the rules. When communities decide to slow the spread, it will slow down. It’s purely a function of our actions.”

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