Albany County says locations won’t be mapped

 Elizabeth Whalen

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“Please protect your hospitals; please protect your health-care workers; please protect yourselves,” says Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen. “It’s essential.”

ALBANY COUNTY — In the midst of his press conference on Tuesday morning, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy got a text saying that two more COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized: both are men, aged 44 and 68.

“Take this serious, folks. Please,” he said.

Those two new patients joined the seven already hospitalized: three men and four women, aged 52 to 90. Three of those patients are in an intensive care unit.

Albany County now has 136 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019, up from 122 on Monday morning.

A total of 576 Albany County residents are under mandatory quarantine in their homes and another 652 are under precautionary quarantine.

McCoy said that the county has received many inquiries from citizens wanting information on the locations of cases throughout the county.

“It’s not going to happen,” said McCoy. “Assume it’s all over the county.”

The county’s health department does let emergency medical workers know about the location of patients with COVID-19, McCoy said.

On March 12, when McCoy announced the first two cases in Albany County, he did give the location — Albany and Guilderland.  He also later gave the location of two cases involving public schools — Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland, and Pine Hills Elementary School in Albany.

And, at Monday’s press conference, Sheriff Craig Apple said a nurse at Albany County’s jail, which is  located in Colonie, had tested positive for COVID-19.

“You’re not going to get a map to make you feel safe in certain parts of the county,” McCoy said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“If you look at the trajectory over the past week  … COVID-19 is becoming more prevalent in the community,” said Albany County’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen.

She also said, “It’s likely we’re not getting a true picture.”

On Friday, community testing was halted as supplies of test kits from the federal government are limited and are now being used only for hospitalized patients and exposed health-care workers. “I hope community testing will pick back up,” said Whalen.

McCoy said that over 2,700 tests had been performed in Albany County with a positive test rate of under 5 percent.

Both McCoy and Whalen stressed that county residents without jobs deemed essential by the governor’s directive should stay home and, if they go out for necessities like purchasing drugs or groceries, they should keep at least six feet from others.

“It’s alarming,” said McCoy, referencing traffic on Central Avenue that looks like it always has. “Something has to change.”

“Flattening the curve gives us more time, more resources,” said Whalen, again citing other countries a week or two further into the pandemic with hospital systems that have been overwhelmed.

McCoy said that Monday’s snowstorm was helpful because it kept kids off of playground equipment, where the virus can spread.

Whalen said health department workers continue to check daily on over 500 quarantined patients. “Very few,” she said, have not abided by the rules.

“We have enlisted the help of law enforcement when necessary,” she said.

Whalen also said she is grateful for the county’s Medical Reserve Corps helping the health department with “myriad calls, day and night … making sure people are OK in their homes.”

“We try to keep shifts,” Whalen said, but volunteers often want to stay longer. She spoke of the “kindness and humanity” evidenced at the health department every day.

McCoy said he had had the authority “to do a complete shutdown” of the county. “The governor took that away,” he said. “We have to follow his lead … We’re relying on the governor.”

McCoy said that Governor Andrew Cuomo is telling New Yorkers: “Do this yourself.”

The county executive concluded with some advice: “Discover being home with your kids all day … that magical time … Have fun with them. Discover each other.”



Mccoy said the American Red Cross is in need of blood as many drives have been canceled. Donors need to make an appointment by calling 1-800-Red Cross, or by going online to

“Cards have taken off,” said McCoy of electronic greetings that kids are sending to nursing home residents who can no longer receive visitors. The e-cards are cheering up the workers at Shaker Place, too, he said. E-cards can be sent to .

 McCoy announced that Tuesday is Great American Takeout Day across the nation. With restaurants in New York and elsewhere closed for service except for takeout and delivery, restaurant associations nationwide have asked Americans to support local eateries by ordering takeout and delivery.

McCoy said the county’s new mental-health support line had received “30-some” calls. The support line — 518-269-6634 — runs seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone experiencing a psychiatric emergency should still call the Albany County Mobile Crisis Team at 518-549–6500.

Anyone who wants to volunteer for the Albany County Medical Reserve Corps to help the response to COVID-19, or to help the county’s health department, answering phones and making calls to residents under quarantine, may call the Department of Health’s Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator at 518-447-4610.

For all COVID-19 questions and concerns, Albany County residents are encouraged to use United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline as well as the State Department of Health’s hotline at 888-364-3065.

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