State hits single digits for COVID infection rate, Albany County at 16%

— Photo from NYS Governor’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul, speaking on Long Island on Friday morning, displays a chart showing COVID-19 cases are declining statewide.

ALBANY COUNTY — While Governor Kathy Hochul lauded New Yorkers on Friday morning for having a positivity rate under 10 percent, Albany County’s seven-day average was still at 16.6 percent.

Statewide, the governor’s office reported the day’s infection rate at 9.75 percent.

“The trend is heading in the right direction,” said Hochul as she spoke at the state’s Stony Brook campus on Long Island, where she praised the synergy with the federal Brookhaven lab.

Hochul noted the peak of new COVID cases was 90,000 statewide on Jan. 7. “Statewide, we are at 28,296 …,” she said. “That’s a 66.6-percent drop in two weeks.”

Albany County appears to have reached its high of new cases reported in a single day on Jan. 13 with 1,586 positive cases — so is about a week behind the statewide trend.

“I hope that our infection rate will continue to come down, but for now, we’re still identifying hundreds of cases of the virus every single day,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy as he announced 453 new cases in his Friday morning release.

“We need people to continue to practice the important mitigation strategies that keep our most vulnerable safe,” he went on. “I’m encouraging everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t, get the booster shot if they have, wear masks in public, and stay home and get tested if you’re feeling under the weather.”

Currently, more than 25 percent of Albany County residents are not fully vaccinated.

Hochul on Friday morning also noted a few areas are not trending down, generally where the vaccination rates are lower.

“The Southern Tier has an increase, Central New York, and the North County,” said Hochul. “So we’re watching those very closely. Adjusting hospitalizations; many of them still cannot do elective surgeries because we need that capacity.”

Currently statewide, about 43 percent of COVID patients have been admitted to hospitals for non-COVID reasons, the governor reported. In the Capital Region, 31 percent of patients with COVID currently hospitalized, that is, 130 patients, were hospitalized for non-COVID reasons while 69 percent, or 290 patients, were admitted because of COVID-19.

Hochul also announced more National Guard members are being deployed to nursing homes. “We saw the incredible vulnerability of our nursing homes when the original COVID-19 hit; it just went through nursing homes like wildfire, and we have kept a close eye on our nursing homes to make sure that they had plenty of test kits,” said Hochul.

Also, vaccinations are required of nursing-home workers. “And now we’re realizing that the staff are exhausted,” said Hochul.

Originally, 120 medically trained National Guard members were sent to nursing homes and now 88 nonmedical members are being deployed, Hochul said.

Albany County’s nursing home is one of the places National Guard members were sent.

Hochul once again stressed the importance of vaccinating children and reiterated that 91 percent of children hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. “That’s entirely preventable.”

Only 23 percent of New York children ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated.

She announced that 17 new pop-up vaccination sites for kids are opening, including one in the Capital Region, at the Troy farmers’ market on 43rd Street. It will be open Saturday, Jan. 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for children age 5 and older.


Albany County

On Friday morning, McCoy announced that a man in his sixties died of COVID on Thursday, bringing the county’s death toll from the virus to 496.

“We knew that after the unprecedented spike in Omicron infections that we’ve reported over the last few weeks there would be a delayed spike in hospitalizations and deaths that followed,” McCoy said in his Friday COVID press release. “That’s exactly what we’ve seen now that daily positive cases trend downward while people are still getting hospitalized and dying after being infected. Sadly, this is now the sixth consecutive day that I’ve had to report at least one COVID death in Albany County.”

Albany County’s most recent seven-day average of cases per 100,000 is now down to 164.2 and the Capital Region’s average of cases per 100,000 is down to 169.6. Statewide, that rate is 168.5 per 100,000.

There were 14 new hospitalizations of Albany County residents since Thursday, and there are still 123 county residents currently hospitalized with the coronavirus. Ten of those hospital patients are in intensive-care units, down from 12 on Thursday.


Job growth

The state’s labor department on Friday released preliminary figures showing private-sector jobs increased over the month of December by 45,400, or 0.6 percent, to 7,667,400.

By comparison, the number of private-sector jobs in the United State increased by 0.2 percent in December 2021.

New York State’s private sector jobs (not seasonally adjusted) increased by 383,300, or 5.2 percent, over the year in December 2021. By comparison, the number of private sector jobs in the U.S. increased by 5.1 percent over the year.

So, at the same time, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 6.6 percent to 6.2 percent in December 2021.

New York City’s unemployment rate decreased over the month from 9.0 percent to 8.8 percent. Outside of New York City, the unemployment rate decreased from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy area saw a 2.6 percent increase in non-farm jobs.

The industry that saw the biggest job growth, of 29.1 percent, was leisure and hospitality, followed by professional and business services at 6.7 percent, and then by trade, transportation, and utilities at 4 percent.

The only sectors to lose jobs were finance, down 1.4 percent, and construction, down 3.8 percent.

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