COVID-19 variants increase nationwide

The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker still shows Albany County, like most of the rest of the state, with a “high” level of community transmission. The tracker also says that, in the last seven days, there has been a nearly 13-percent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

ALBANY COUNTY — “With the new variants, we know there is more work to do to keep everyone safe,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Sunday as he noted the importance of following health guidelines while vaccination continues.

In the United States, by mid-March, the variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom, accounted for 27 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is up from 1 percent at the start of February.

The CDC’s national genomic surveillance program identifies new and emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name for COVID-19, to determine implications for COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, or vaccines. Monitoring the spread of emerging variants in the United States relies on widespread, rapid sequencing, the CDC says.

The proportion of lineages circulating in the United States are tracked and characterized to determine if they are considered:

—  Variants of interest, which have “potential diagnostic impact, or predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity”;

Variants of concern, which show “an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination”; or

Variants of high consequence, which have “clear evidence that prevention measures or medical countermeasures have significantly reduced effectiveness relative to previously circulating variants.”

The variants of concern that the CDC lists for New York State are B.1.1.7 at 3.7 percent, B.1.351 at 0.2 percent, and B.1.427 at 5.6 percent. Other lineages make up 90.5 percent.

The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker still shows Albany County, like most of the rest of the state, with a “high” level of community transmission. The tracker also says that, in the last seven days, there has been a nearly 13-percent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

On Sunday morning, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy reported, in a release, that, since Saturday, the county had 61 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 22.552.

Of the new cases, 37 did not have clear sources of infection identified and 24 had close contact with someone infected with the disease.

The five-day average for new daily positives has increased to 66.2 from 64.6. There are now 591 active cases in the county, up from 586 on Saturday.

The number of Albany County residents under quarantine decreased to 1,443 from 1,529. So far, 71,915 residents have completed quarantine. Of those who, 21,961 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of 56 recoveries since Saturday.

There was one new hospitalization overnight, and there are now 23 county residents hospitalized from the virus, a decrease of one since yesterday. There remain five patients in intensive-care units.

Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 366.

Statewide, the infection rate, as of Saturday, as a seven-day rolling average, was 3.6 percent, according to the state’s dashboard.

Albany County, also as of Saturday, as a seven-day rolling average, was 2.2 percent.

As of Sunday evening, the state’s vaccine tracker reports that 40.2 percent of Albany County’s 307,117 residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

Statewide, 33.0 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose while 20.4 percent have completed a vaccination series.

More Regional News

  • Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said she has received word from the state’s health department on the “likelihood that in the next week the FDA will give the OK for the 12-to-15 age group.” Her department is preparing to vaccinate youth, communicating with local schools and pediatricians, urging the doctors to become certified vaccinators through the state’s Department of Health.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Syracuse Monday to announce the 2021 Reimagined New York State Fair will run from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6.

  • The first of Albany County’s 17 congregate meal sites for seniors re-opened Monday as a pilot program in Watervliet. Other meal sites will open on May 17, June 1, and Sept. 1.

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