County has nearly 150 new COVID-19 cases in a week

— From the Albany County COVID-19 Dashboard
Daily counts of Albany County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 since March show that current rates are less than half of the peak in May. The July spike followed a Fourth of July weekend party where about 200 college-age people gathered without masks, resulting in nearly 50 related cases.

ALBANY COUNTY — Over the past week, Albany County has had nearly 150 new cases of COVID-19, the county’s executive Daniel McCoy noted in his daily coronavirus press release on Thursday morning. He noted, too, the number of patients hospitalized with the virus jumped to seven on Thursday, up from three several days ago.

Also, 992 county residents are currently under quarantine, up from 937 on Thursday, an increase of 55.

“We’ve seen a similar story before, where clusters of high infection rates in New York City and downstate are followed by spikes upstate. We don’t need to sound the alarms yet, but we need to take this moment as a warning sign …,” McCoy said in his release.

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his Thursday phone conversation with the press, stressed that, while there are several COVID-19 clusters, the state’s infection rate is not going up.

“The clusters are 6 percent of the state population,” said Cuomo.

Within the top 20 ZIP codes in counties with recent outbreaks — Brooklyn and Queens in New York city, and Rockland and Orange counties — the average rate of positive tests is 5.8 percent. The rate of positive tests for the remainder of New York State, not counting these 20 ZIP codes, is 1.01 percent, Cuomo noted.

The 20 hotspot ZIP codes contained 23.2 percent of all positive cases reported in New York State on Wednesday, but represent only 6.2 percent of the state’s population. A ZIP code in Orange County has the highest positive percentage, over at 14-day average, at 16.3 percent.

Cuomo also said, “Yesterday, we did 145,000 tests. That is a new record for the State of New York.”

Earlier in the week, Cuomo had announced new rules, to be enforced by Friday, for hotspot areas with zones where restrictions are heaviest at the center of the cluster and become less strict in surrounding areas and less restrictive still in neighboring areas.

The fines for sponsors of mass gatherings in violation of the rules was increased to $15,000 and someone not wearing a mask in public could be fined $1,000.

Orthodox Jewish communities are at the center of several of the clusters and protesters — many without masks — took to the streets in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Cuomo, in his conference call on Thursday, noted that the initial statewide shutdown in March of businesses, schools, and houses of worship was absolute.

“Closing down is more dramatic than the current rule,” Cuomo said on his conference call Thursday. “Why are they so upset about the current rule when there was a previous rule that was more dramatic? Because the previous rules were never enforced, that’s why. That’s why this rule seems harsh because they never followed the first rules and because they were never enforced ….

“We didn’t have enough testing and enough data to actually zero in on 6 percent of the population before. The longer you don’t follow the rule, the higher the infection rate spreads and the more obvious it becomes.”


County trends

Albany County’s dashboard, tracking the number of COVID-19 cases reported each day since early March, shows COVID-19 increasing until it reached a peak in May and then began decreasing, a trend that continued until a Fourth of July weekend party of college-age people led to nearly 50 related cases of the virus.

After that spike, the trend has been downward until September when schools opened and college students returned to campuses in Albany County. The current numbers are only about half as high as the May peak.

Statewide, the Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, was one of two regions, from Wednesday test results, with the lowest positivity rate. Both the Capital Region and the Mohawk Valley had a rate of 0.5 percent. The governor termed the rate “very good.”

Seven of the state’s 10 regions had a rate of 1 percent or higher. The remaining region — the North Country, which often has the lowest rate — had a positivity rate of 0.7 percent.

As of Thursday morning, Albany County has 3,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 20 are new since Wednesday.

Of the new cases, 14 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, one reported traveling out of state, one is a healthcare worker or a resident of a congregate setting, and four did not have a clear source of transmission detected at this time. Separately, eight of the new cases are associated with the University at Albany. 

The five-day average for new daily positives decreased slightly to 18.4 from 19. There are now 125 active cases in the county, up from 119 on Wednesday.

So far, 13,296 county residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,000 had tested positive and recovered. 

There were three new hospitalizations overnight so seven county residents are now hospitalized with COVID-19, with two of them in intensive-care units. The county’s hospitalization rate jumped from 0.12 percent to 0.22 percent.

Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 135.

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