No clusters as COVID-19 spreads throughout county

A 7-year-old is among the 10 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus disease, bringing Albany County’s total to 25, County Executive Daniel McCoy announced at this morning’s press conference.

There are now 450 people under precautionary quarantine and another 125 under mandatory quarantine. “A lot more people will be infected,” said McCoy as “aggressive testing” continues.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if, by tomorrow, 1,000 people in Albany County were quarantined.

One person remains hospitalized and the other confirmed cases are under quarantine at home.

The location of the first-grader who got the positive test results last night was not disclosed as the school district had to first be given time to inform staff, McCoy said.

“The leaps and bounds we’re taking versus any other county is alarming,” he said.

 The governor listed Albany County today as fifth among the 18 counties statewide with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Downstate counties had formerly been the ones with the most confirmed cases.

“We thought it was all going to be Guilderland,” McCoy said; one of the two first confirmed cases was in Guilderland, followed quickly by two more. “But it is all around the county in different areas,” he said.

“We are finding the vast majority did not have contact with other cases,” said Elizabeth Whalen, the county’s commissioner of health. “We’re not seeing clusters.”

Whalen reiterated the message she had given at earlier press conferences: Residents need to stay home. 

Whalen noted that she has children who are home from school and would like to see friends. “It’s simply not safe to do so,” she said.

Whalen also said there are “a multitude of online resources to find things to do with children.”

She concluded, “We are in unprecedented times … It calls for a unified approach.”

McCoy predicted that soon, “It will be too difficult to map and track.”

He noted that the county’s health department is now “chasing down parishioners from two churches” since on March 8 one person with a confirmed case had attended Mass at the Welcome Chapel and another had attended mass at Our Lady of Assumption. Anyone who attended those morning masses is asked to remain in their homes under precautionary quarantine and to contact the health department.

“San Francisco last night shut down the entire city,” said McCoy. “We’re headed that way.”

He said he would follow Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lead on closures and stressed again that residents should not “bog down” the health department with calls but rather call United Way at 2-1-1 if they have concerns. He also gave the number for the state’s hotline: 1-888-364-3065.

“If I close Albany County, they’ll just travel to Rensselaer,” McCoy said of the need for following state directives.


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