County leaders urge vigilance as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“We thought we were coming out the end of the tunnel,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy. “Now we’re going back.”

ALBANY COUNTY — On Friday, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced another 22 new cases of COVID-19.

“We thought we were coming out the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Now we’re going back.”

McCoy had held over 100 daily press briefings as the cases, starting in the beginning of March, appeared to reach an apex in mid-April, then continued to largely decline through the four phases of reopening the economy.

But now, over the last two weeks, new cases, followed by hospitalizations and deaths, are on the rise.

“If people continue to do things they shouldn’t be doing, we’re going to be at this a long time,” said McCoy. He called the 22 new cases overnight “alarming.”

Meanwhile, numbers in the state as a whole appear to be heading in the right direction. Of the 76,507 test results that came back Thursday and were reported by the governor on Friday, 753 or 0.98 percent were positive.

The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, continues, for the third day in a row, to have the highest percentage at 1.50. The North Country remains the lowest — now tied with the Finger Lakes — at 0.70 percent.

As of Friday morning, Albany County had 2,190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 844 residents under quarantine, up from 631on Thursday.

The five-day average for new daily positive cases is now up to 18.6 from 14.4 yesterday.

There are currently 110 active cases, up from 91 yesterday. McCoy noted there had been just 49 active cases on July 10.

“We’re going the other way …,” said McCoy. “The last thing I want is to give anyone reason to shut down again.”

So far, 6,725 county residents have completed quarantine, while 2,080 of them have tested positive and recovered, an increase of 3.

Six residents remain hospitalized and the hospitalization rate has risen to 0.28 percent. The county’s death toll from COVID-19 remains at 124.

Of the 22 new cases, eight were people who had close contact with someone who had the disease; five were health-care workers or people who live in congregate settings, one was a traveler, and two had no clear source of infection.

Four were linked to a Fourth of July weekend party on Hudson Avenue in Albany, bringing the total of COVID-19 cases lined to that party to 37.

McCoy again urged, “Everyone should get tested … It takes five minutes … especially the travel teams.” Teams, by executive order, are to play only regionally.

McCoy said he had received “a lot of complaints” about sports activities, such as playing basketball, that are not allowed by coronavirus restrictions.

“Help us stop this so we can get back to some type of normalcy,” pleaded McCoy.

“It’s unfortunate we are starting to see the numbers climb up,” agreed Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen.

She said that the party on Hudson Avenue, which was attended by over 200 college-age people who weren’t wearing masks or staying six feet from one another, shows how “from a single exposure can extend multiple cases.”

Beyond the people who attended the party, the disease has now spread to people with whom those partiers have come in contact.

“We’ve seen people infected who were more vulnerable and needed hospitalization,” said Whalen. 

She went on, “It’s very important for your younger population to realize that your actions matter. What you’re doing on a daily basis can affect the health of your family, your friends, your loved ones.”

The health department’s work of tracing contacts has become harder now that more people are out and about. With the shutdown, Whalen noted, people had limited contacts.

She said that there is no way of predicting who will get a serious infection. “Why risk it?” asked Whalen.

She urged, “Stay home unless you need to go out.”

If you do go out, Whalen urged: Use your mask; wear your mask correctly, practice frequent hand-washing, and stay six feet from others.

“If these trends continue … I have serious concerns about the fall,” said Whalen, who noted earlier that autumn is the traditional flu season as well. She said a vaccine for COVID-19 is “still a long way off.”

“We want to avoid hospital surge capacity. We want to avoid more severe illness and death,” said Whalen. “And every single person that is listening to this and the people that you know that you can talk to about this all have a role to play.”

More Regional News

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.