Three more county residents die of COVID, 279 more are infected

ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County announced a spike in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — 279 — as well as reporting three new deaths from the disease.

Since Wednesday, a woman in her sixties, a man in his eighties, and a woman in her nineties have succumbed to the virus, according to a release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.

This brings the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 286.

Some good numbers on Thursday came from the state’s Department of Labor, which announced the fifth straight month of declining unemployment rates in New York.

The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in December, decreasing from 8.4 percent in November 2020. The number of unemployed New Yorkers decreased by 20,200 from 764,500.

A year ago, the December unemployment rate in New York State was 3.9 percent and the rate outside the city was higher than in the city. The Albany, Schenectady, and Troy area lost 9.5 percent of its non-farm jobs from December 2019 to December 2020, which amounted to about 46,000 jobs.

In December 2020, the rate of unemployment in New York City was far greater, at 11.4 percent, than in the rest of the state, at 5.9 percent. The decrease in the city from November to December, from 12.1 to 11.4  percent, is what brought the state average down.

The rest of the state actually had an increase in unemployment from 5.7 in November to 5.9 in December.

Meanwhile, the United States unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent.

Also on Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the open enrollment period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through March 31. New Yorkers can apply through the state’s Marketplace, called NY State of Health, or directly through insurers.

People who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs — Medicaid, Essential Plan, and Child Health Plus — can enroll year-round. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health online at or by phone at 1-855-355-5777. 

The state’s Department of Financial Services announced on Thursday it is investigating “significant price spikes” for six drugs that were connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring statements from the manufacturers explaining the facts and circumstances surrounding the spikes.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen too many instances of pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of those in need and significantly raising the prices on life-saving prescription drugs,” Cuomo said in a statement, announcing the investigation.

Of the six drugs, the one with the biggest price spike — over 1350 percent — was Budesonide, a generic formulation of a corticosteroid produced by CiplUSA Inc., which, the release says, hiked its price “in the midst of the first wave of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and on the heels of an announcement of international clinical trials for its use to treat COVID-19 patients.”

Each of the manufacturers now has to provide information about and a justification for each spike. The Office of Pharmacy Benefits is authorized to collect additional information, including by examining witnesses or issuing subpoenas.

If it is determined that a valid reason for the spike exists, the Department of Financial Services will announce that development as well, and close the investigation. For more information or to report a drug price spike, New Yorkers may visit the DFS website.  Any questions may be addressed to Eamon Rock, director of the Office of Pharmacy Benefits, at


Newest numbers

As of Thursday morning, Albany County has had 16,510 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to McCoy’s release.

Of the 279 new cases, 195 did not have a clear source of infection identified, 52 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, and 30 are health-care workers or residents of congregate settings.

The five-day average for new daily positives has increased to 206 from 201.6. There are now 1,802 active cases in the county, up from 1,748 yesterday.

The number of county residents under mandatory quarantine increased to 2,934 from 2,792. So far, 48,980 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 14,708 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 220 recoveries since Wednesday.

Three residents were hospitalized overnight, and there are 170 county residents currently hospitalized from the virus — a net decrease of 15. There are now 13 patients in intensive-care units, one fewer than on Wednesday.

The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, has administered 82 percent of the 78,550 vaccine doses it has been given, according to a release from the governor’s office. Statewide, 91 percent of available doses have been administered.

New York is on pace to be out of vaccine on Friday, the release said.

The Capital Region continues to have the worst rate of the state’s 10 regions for available hospital beds, at 25 percent, and for available ICU beds, at 19 percent.

Currently, 540 Capital Region hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients, which is 0.05 percent of the region’s population.

Statewide, 0.05 percent of New Yorkersare hospitalized and 32 percent of the state’s hospital beds are available.

Currently, 213 of the region’s 260 ICU beds are filled. Statewide, 26 percent of ICU beds are available.

The Capital Region’s infection rate as a seven-day average as of Wednesday, is 6.91 percent. The statewide positivity rate is 6.23 percent.

As of Jan. 20, Albany County’s seven-day rolling average was 7.6 percent, according to the state’s dashboard.

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