Week CXVI: New COVID cases in Albany County sharply decline

— Map from the CDC

Although Albany County is still colored orange, meaning it has a high community level of COVID-19, neighboring Schoharie County is colored green for a low level and Greene County is colored yellow for a medium level. Last week, all of New York’s counties but one were colored orange.

ALBANY COUNTY — After reaching a plateau last week, Albany County this week has experienced a striking decline in reported new cases of COVID-19.

At the same time, the county is still labeled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having a “high” community level of COVID, which means masks should be worn indoors in public.

Last week, the CDC’s map of New York showed most of the state colored orange for a high level. This week, a large swath across the center of the state is colored yellow for “medium” or green for “low” community levels.

Meanwhile, about 72 percent of the counties nationwide are labeled as “low,” a decrease of about 4 percent from last week, while 21 percent are labeled “medium,” an increase of about 6 percent, and 8 percent of counties nationwide are labeled “high,” a 1-percent decrease from last week.

On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul noted a milestone of more than 80 million COVID-19 over-the-counter tests being distributed to date by New York State, including to schools and nursing homes. 

The results of the antigen tests often go unreported, making rates of infection less reliable.

Since late December, 81,720,820 tests have been distributed throughout New York, the governor’s office reported, adding that, of the over 100 million tests procured, nearly 20 million tests have been stockpiled to help prepare for any potential surges later this year.

Once a person tests positive, whether symptomatic or not, he or she is to isolate so as not to spread the virus. Similarly, a person who has been in close contact with someone who tested positive is to quarantine.

The state’s health commissioner, Mary Bassett, urged  New Yorkers “to get tested when not feeling well or potentially exposed — including after traveling or being at events — and to contact a health care provider immediately following testing positive to discuss eligibility for treatments.”

She also said in the Tuesday release, “New Yorkers should also complete their initial COVID-19 vaccine series and get boosted when eligible, as vaccination is still the best way to protect against serious illness and hospitalization.”


Albany County

Another Albany County resident — a man in his eighties — has died of COVID-19, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy reported in a release last Friday. This brings the county’s COVID-19 death toll to 563.

Also on Friday, McCoy hosted a barbecue at the county’s nursing home to thank the National Guard members who have helped out there since January. Guard members were deployed statewide to make up for staff shortages at nursing homes during the pandemic.

“Today’s COVID update leaves us room for optimism with a number of indicators trending in the right direction,” said McCoy in his second COVID release of the week, on Tuesday. “Not only are there no new deaths to report since the last update on Friday, but the number of cases per 100,000 and our percent positivity continue to decline, we’re seeing fewer daily hospitalizations and the total number of residents currently hospitalized is remaining stable.

“I’m encouraging residents to get vaccinated and get the booster shot if they haven’t yet, to get tested and report at-home COVID tests, and to stay home if they’re feeling sick. Continuing to take important precautions — especially for those with underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems — will help us build on this progress,” he continued.

A quarter of Albany County residents have not completed a vaccination series — a percentage that hasn’t budged for months. At the same time, a quarter of the county residents eligible for a booster shot have not received one.

Forty-eight county residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with four of them in intensive-care units.

This compares with 43 hospitalized last week,  42 two weeks ago, 51 three weeks ago, 34 four weeks ago, 31 five weeks ago, 30 county residents six weeks ago, 21 county residents hospitalized seven weeks ago, and 13 hospitalized with the virus eight weeks ago.

So it appears that, after a steady increase for the last month and a half, hospitalizations are still leveling off although there is a five-person increase from a week ago. Also, the governor’s office reports that 37.4 percent of people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the Capital Region were not admitted because of the virus.

Hospitalizations typically lag behind infection rates.

The rate of COVID cases per 100,000 of population is decreasing. McCoy reported in his Tuesday COVID release that Albany County has 38.2 cases per 100,000 as a seven-day everage.

This compares with 49.6 last week, 51.2 two weeks ago, 54.2 cases per 100,000 three weeks ago, 43.7 four weeks ago, 37.7 five weeks ago, 28.3 cases six weeks ago, 21.1 cases seven weeks ago, and 11.0 cases per 100,000 eight weeks ago.

Albany County’s count of cases per 100,000 of population, as a seven-day average, peaked at 53.6 on May 19.

The state’s count of cases per 100,000 of population, as a seven-day average, peaked at 51.0 on May 11. It is now down to 41.41.

Statewide on Tuesday, the seven-day average was 35.10 per 100,000 — a dramatic decrease from 45.36 last week and 50.50 the week before. Long Island still has the highest at 45.7, another dramatic increase from 62.72 last week, and Central New York still has the lowest at 16.30, down from 22.44 cases per 100,000 of population last week.

The less reliable infection rate — the percentage of positive test results — is now at 11.6 percent for Albany County as a seven-day average.

This is down from 13.1 last week, and 13.3 percent the week before after a steady climb up: 12.2 percent three weeks ago, 10.0 percent four weeks ago, 13.5 percent five weeks ago, 9.1 percent six weeks ago, 7.5 percent seven weeks ago, 3.5 percent eight weeks ago, and 2.6 percent nine weeks ago.

Statewide, as a seven-day average, the infection rate is 6.82 percent, down from last week’s 8.04 percent. New York City still has the lowest at 5.68, down from 6.32 percent last week and Western New York still the highest at 10.67 percent, down from 14.61 percent last week.


Long COVID is prevalent

One in five COVID-19 survivors aged 18 to 64 years and one in four survivors aged 65 or older had at least one lingering condition that might be attributable to the virus, according to a study released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study also found that COVID-19 survivors have twice the risk for developing pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions than people who haven’t had COVID.

The study was based on electronic health-record data from March 2020 to November 2021 to assess the incidence of 26 conditions often attributable to post-COVID among patients who had received a previous COVID-19 diagnosis compared with the incidence among matched patients without evidence of COVID-19 — the control patients.

The analysis was stratified by two age groups: from 18 to 64, and 65 and older. Patients were followed for 30 to 365 days after the index encounter until one or more incident conditions were observed or through Oct. 31, 2021 — whichever occurred first.

Among all patients, 38 percent of those who’d had the virus experienced an incident condition compared with 16 percent of the control group; conditions affected multiple systems, and included cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and psychiatric signs and symptoms.

For those patients 65 and older, there was an increased risk for neurologic conditions, as well as for four of five mental health conditions (mood disorders, other mental conditions, anxiety, and substance-related disorders). Neurocognitive symptoms have been reported to persist for up to one year after acute infection and might persist longer, the report said.

Overall, 45.4 percent of the survivors aged 65 and older in this study had incident conditions. This age group is already at higher risk for stroke and neurocognitive impairment, so post-COVID conditions affecting the nervous system are of particular concern because these conditions can lead to early entry into supportive services or investment of additional resources into care, the report said.

The findings are consistent with those from several large studies that indicated that post-COVID incident conditions occur in 20 to 30 percent of patients, the report said, and that a proportion of patients require expanded follow-up care after the initial infection.

“COVID-19 severity and illness duration can affect patients’ health care needs and economic well-being ….,” the report said. “In addition, care requirements might place a strain on health services after acute illness in communities that experience heavy COVID-19 case surges.”



As the school year draws to a close, COVID-19 cases continue to be reported although not at the pace they were reported during the January Omicron surge.

According to the state’s school COVID-19 Report Card, as of May 24, the Guilderland schools, with about 4,800 students, had 2,084 cases this school year nearly 1,000 more than the 1,158 cases reported on Jan. 24, which itself was  more than double the 467 cases on Jan. 4 — a jump over the pre-vacation Dec. 23 number of 293 confirmed cases.

Student cases at Guilderland remained the vast majority with 1,703 reported compared to 191 for staff and 190 for teachers. The high school had 459 student cases and the middle school had 424 student cases while the five elementary schools combined had 820 cases.

Voorheesville, with about 1,200 students, has had 522 cases this year, more than double the 235 it had on Jan. 24, a marked increase from 136 on Jan. 4, which was a jump of 56 from Dec. 23. Students make up 433 cases — with 222 at the elementary level — while staff account for 45 cases and teachers for 44 cases.

Berne-Knox-Westerlo, with about 780 students, has had 307 cases, 92 more cases than the 215 on Jan. 24, which ballooned from 133 cases on Jan. 4 — an increase of 24 from Dec. 23. Students made up 222 of the cases — with 107 at the elementary school and 115 at the secondary school — while staff accounts for 43 and teachers for 42 cases.

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