Nursing homes allowed to open for visitors

— Photo from Cardona’s Market

 Cardona’s Market owner August Cardona unloads 150 sandwiches in preparation for a surprise lunch for health-care workers and volunteers at the Albany County vaccination site at the Albany Capital Center on Thursday.

ALBANY COUNTY — New York State has revised its guidance for nursing-home visits to permit visits at all times for all residents with limited exceptions.

The new guidance, effective immediately, replaces the state’s Feb. 23 regulations, which required a facility to be free of COVID-19 for 14 days before allowing visitors.

The guidance, announced in a Thursday press release from the governor’s office, aligns with the recently released guidance from the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The exceptions are for unvaccinated residents in areas of high community spread and lower resident vaccination rates, residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, or those in isolation or quarantine.

Nursing homes must still continue to adhere to strong infection control practices.

The number of positive cases in nursing homes have decreased more than 80 percent since peaking in mid-January during a second COVID post-holiday surge, the release said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said last month that all nursing home residents and workers had been offered vaccinations.

The state’s Department of Health strongly recommends that all facilities offer testing for visitors as COVID-19 is still present in communities statewide.

Visits to dying nursing home residents, which had previously been allowed in all facilities at all times, will continue under this new guidance. 

 

COVID cancels NCAA game

Due to positive COVID-19 test results, the Notre Dame hockey team will not play Boston College in the game scheduled for Saturday at the Albany County Times Union Center as part of the 2021 NCAA Championship series.

This decision was made in consultation with the Albany County Public Health Department and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Medical Advisory Group, according to a release from Notre Dame. The game will be ruled a no contest.

The Notre Dame team went through seven rounds of testing in the seven days leading up to its departure for Albany on Wednesday, March 24.

“It’s an unfortunate situation and I feel for our guys, especially our seniors ...,” Head Coach Jeff Jackson said in the release. “But with the multiple positives and subsequent contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and the others in the tournament we could not proceed.”

“It is disappointing that hockey fans won’t be able to see Notre Dame play Boston College in what would have been an exciting match,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy in a statement. “However, this is an example that COVID-19 has not gone away and testing needs to continue.”

He also said, in a separate release, reporting on the latest test results and hospitalizations, “We’re at a pivotal moment in the pandemic as we confront the possibility of a third wave in the future. That’s why we need everyone to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity and we need to expand the definition of 1B essential workers.

“Additionally, with the success of vaccine deliveries to homebound seniors and disabled individuals with the help of Guilderland and Colonie EMS and others, we need a larger supply of the Johnson & Johnson shots that made it possible.”

 

Newest numbers

Albany County has 62 new cases of COVID-19 since Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 21,914, according to a release from McCoy’s office.

Of the new cases, 38 did not have clear sources of infection identified, 21 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, two reported traveling out of state, and one was a health-care worker or resident of a congregate setting.

The five-day average for new daily positives has decreased to 58.2 from 58.6. There are now 506 active cases in the county, up from 488 on Wednesday.

The number of Albany County residents under quarantine increased to 1,276 from 1,230. So far, 69,721 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 21,408 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 42 recoveries since Wednesday.

There were five new hospitalizations overnight, and there are now 29 county residents hospitalized from the virus — a net decrease of one. There are currently three patients in intensive-care units, unchanged from Wednesday.

Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 365.

As of Wednesday, as a seven-day rolling average, the COVID-19 infection rate statewide is 3.4 percent, according to the state’s dashboard.

For Albany County, also as of Wednesday, as a seven-day rolling average, the infection rate was 2.0 percent.

According to the state’s vaccine tracker, as of Thursday evening, 27.5 percent of New Yorkers have had at least one vaccine shot and 14.6 have completed a series.

The state tracker says 34.6 percent of Albany County’s 307,117 residents, as of Wednesday evening, had received at least one vaccine shot. McCoy reported Thursday morning that 34.2 percent had received at least one shot and 17.3 percent had been fully vaccinated.

He noted that 1,000 first doses were scheduled to be administered at the county’s point of dispensing or POD on Thursday.

More Regional News

  • Despite the funding shortfall, New York State was legally compelled to fully reopen its application portal last week following a court injunction.

  • Albany County distributed 1,000 of its 10,000 free COVID tests through Stewrt’s Shops to try to reach rural residents while Guilderland used an online sign-up to distribute its allotment of tests.

  • “We will no longer be doing contact tracing because the numbers of new daily positive cases is too high to keep up with in a time sensitive way,” Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen wrote in an email Wednesday morning, answering Enterprise questions. “We ask that those who test positive notify those who have been around them so they may take appropriate action,” Whalen said.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.