NYS is cruising while county is in throes of more new COVID-19 cases

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“You have the right not to go,” Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy told people who don’t want to sit six feet from others in restaurants or bars.

ALBANY COUNTY — In a two-week trend, the county’s executive, Daniel McCoy, announced 20 new cases at his Saturday morning press briefing along with a slight increase in hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations statewide dropped again, down to 646, a new low since March 18. The state also has the lowest number of patients in intensive-care units since March 16: 149.

For the fourth day in a row, the Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, had the highest percentage of positive test results in the state — 1.6 percent.

Of the 71,466 test results reported to New York State yesterday, 750, or 1.05 percent, were positive. Of the state’s 10 regions, the rural North Country remains the lowest at 0.4 percent.

In releasing Saturday’s numbers, Governor Andrew Cuomo said,  “New York State’s numbers continue to show progress in the midst of alarming increases in COVID-19 cases throughout the country and a renewed need to ensure compliance with state guidance here at home ... It’s essential that we stay vigilant by social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands as this pandemic is far from over.”

In contrast, McCoy said on Saturday, “We’ve steadily gone back up. We hit the apex and we thought we were all getting out of this … Unfortunately, we’re going back in the direction we were a couple months ago with the numbers continuing to go in this direction.”

As of Saturday morning, Albany County had 2,210 confirmed cases of coronavirus 2019 with 882 residents under quarantine, up from 844 on Friday.

Of the 20 new cases, 12 had close contact with someone infected with the disease; three are health-care workers or people living in a congregate setting; one was a traveler who, McCoy said, “went to a state they shouldn’t have”; three had no clear source of infection at this point; and one was linked to a Fourth of July weekend party, which attracted about 200 college-age people to backyards on Hudson Avenue in Albany.

“The ripple effect is continuing to go forward after one little party between July 3rd and July 5th,” said McCoy. 

He noted that the 14-day incubation period for the virus was long past, meaning the new cases linked to the Fourth of July weekend party are from party-goers who later spread the disease.

McCoy again stressed that the most number of COVID-19 cases in Albany County are of people in the 20-to-29 age group.

He noted that, since Tuesday, when 405 people in that age group had been infected, the number in four days has jumped by more than 30 to 438 cases.

“It continues to outpace any age group we have …,” said McCoy. “They’re the ones exposing other people.”

The five-day average for new daily positive cases in Albany County is now up to 22.4 from 18.6 on Friday. There are currently 105 active cases, down from 110 on Friday.

So far, 6,804 county residents have completed quarantine, while 2,105 of them have tested positive and recovered, an increase of 25.

Seven county residents are hospitalized with one in an intensive-care unit. The county’s hospitalization rate has risen to 0.31 percent.

“That’s something that’s alarming,” said McCoy of the increasing hospitalizations.

He stressed the fallacy of a theory he’s heard — the county’s rate is up because more people are getting tested now. Although the testing rate in Albany County has remained fairly steady, McCoy said, the number of residents currently getting tested is fewer than a couple of weeks ago.

McCoy said that one of the most frequent complaints the county gets is that restaurants are not obeying the six-foot limit between patrons.

“I’m not going to call out the restaurants today,” said McCoy, noting he’d have the county’s sheriff and district attorney address the press later in the week.

He said of Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, “He’s been tracking a lot of this stuff down.

McCoy reminded restaurants, speaking of the required distance between patrons and also between tables, “It’s six feet.”

People in the same family can sit together.

McCoy told customers who don’t like sitting at a distance from others in restaurants or bars, “You have the right not to go.”

More Regional News

  • “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.

  • Two more Albany county residents — a man in his sixties and a woman in her eighties — died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy reported on Thursday morning. This brings Albany County’s death toll from the virus to 495.

  • 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.

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