Hospitalizations tick up to 12 in Albany County

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy points to the longest bar in a graph showing county residents in their twenties have had the most cases of COVID-19. 

ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County is seeing an uptick in hospitalizations from COVID-19 while residents in their twenties continue to be the most frequently infected with the disease.

“We knew cases would go up when school opened up,” said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy at his press briefing on Tuesday morning.

He also said, “A lot of kids don’t get it … You have no signs or symptoms but you’re spreading it and we’re not going to get through this if you don’t do the right thing … We need you to be good neighbors,” he said, recommending 20-somethings watch a film about Mister Rogers.

The number of county residents in their twenties who have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 has increased by 19 since a week ago and now stands at 532, McCoy said. The number for residents in their fifties is 391, and for those aged 10 to 19 is 170.

McCoy also expressed concern about the increase in hospitalizations. Between Aug. 14 and 24, the number of hospitalized county residents remained steady at seven. That number has gone up 19, from 297 on Aug. 14 to 316 on Tuesday.

Twelve Albany County residents are currently hospitalized with two in intensive-care units. So the county’s hospitalization rate is now 0.47 percent, up from 0.43 percent on Monday.

McCoy called the increase in hospitalizations alarming.

Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said, “We don’t know yet whether it’s a trend.”

Despite a change last week in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Whalen said, “We are still recommending asymptomatic testing.”

McCoy concurred. “Whether you have signs or symptoms, please go out and get tested. Do the right thing …,” he said. “It’s the only way we’re going to track this. It’s the only way we’re going to know if the virus is still lingering out there … It didn’t go away.”



Whalen also stressed the importance of county residents getting flu shots. She noted that the flu season typically starts in October and peaks in February and said that it takes two weeks to develop antibodies after getting a vaccination to be protected.

Whalen said of the vaccination being developed, which may or not be the same as this fall’s most prominent flu strain, “Even if it’s not a perfect match, it means the disease you get is less severe.”

She also said, “We’ve been told to anticipate a second surge of COVID.” Whalen said it may be difficult for clinicians to differentiate between the flu and COVID-19 since symptoms are similar.

On Wednesday, McCoy and the county’s Department for Aging Commissioner Deb Riitano will launch a “Shoo the Flu” campaign, handing out “flu prevention bags” to seniors who drive through the parking lot at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany. 

Each free bag includes CDC guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and a list of locations to get flu shots along with a thermometer, hand sanitizer, a face mask, a pill case, a bottle of water and a can of chicken soup.


New state initiatives

Governor Andrew Cuomo made several announcements Tuesday to stem the spread of COVID-19. One is the launch of New York’s absentee ballot portal. An executive order allows any voter concerned about exposure to the coronavirus to request an absentee ballot.

Cuomo also issued an executive order requiring county boards of elections to inform voters of upcoming deadlines, to be prepared for upcoming elections, and to help ensure absentee ballots can be used in all elections.

These initiatives follow the  election reforms Cuomo signed into law last month.

Second, Cuomo announced on Tuesday that Alaska and Montana meet the metrics to qualify for New York’s travel advisory and have been added to the list of states and territories from which people arriving in New York have to quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. 

The new list now includes: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin.

Finally, Cuomo announced new state guidance for agritourism businesses as autumn approaches. The businesses — which include corn mazes, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable operations, hayrides, and haunted houses — are considered low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment and are permitted to operate under New York’s NY Forward guidance.

Face coverings and social distancing are required for each of those businesses and there is to be reduced capacity for all but hayrides; for hayrides, frequently-touched surfaces must be cleaned between rides.

New Yorkers can also visit the state’s farmers’ markets and craft beverage trails, which have remained open under state guidance.


Newest numbers

New York State’s infection rate has been below 1 percent for 25 straight days. The number of patients in intensive-care units remained at 109, the lowest number since March 15.

The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, had a rate of 1.3 percent for positive test results. Two other areas were above 1 percent as well: the Mohawk Valley at 1.9 percent andWestern New York at 1.6 percent. The North Country, as usual, continues to have the lowest rate among the state’s 10 regions.

As of Tuesday morning, Albany County has 2,531 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 10 since Monday.

Two of the new cases had close contact with people infected with COVID-19, four reported out-of-state travel, and four did not have a clear source of infection detected at this time.

The number of county residents under quarantine has decreased to 409 from 441. The five-day average for new daily positives has dropped to 8.4 from 9.4 on Monday. Albany County now has 46 active cases, down from 54 a day ago.

So far, 9,701 county residents have completed quarantine. Of those who completed quarantine, 2,485 of them had tested positive and recovered.

The county’s death toll from COVID-19 remains at 133.

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