NYS continues to ramp up COVID-19 testing to quell hotspots

ALBANY COUNTY — “I think we’re in a place where numbers are losing their meaning,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo on a conference call with the press late on Monday.

He said that President Donald Trump has been “promoting the politics of denial on COVID … since day one.”

Cuomo reeled off a list of states — Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Arizona among them — that have reduced the amount of coronavirus testing they are doing. Florida, for example, went from 428,000 tests per week to 153,000, Cuomo said.

“There are some states that have followed the politics of denial and have turned it into science fiction,” he said. “The theory was: If you test less, you will find fewer cases, and if you find fewer cases, you have less of a problem. That’s almost a laughable concept.”

New York State, Cuomo said, is doing the exact opposite, continuing to ramp up its testing. So, in general, as the statewide infection rate in New York hovers around 1 percent, he said, the so-called “hotspots” in New York would be considered cool spots or safe numbers in states like Texas, which is at 7.6, or Pennsylvania, which is at 7.

“We’ve been oversampling the micro-clusters because we want to know what’s going on there,” said Cuomo, referring to his Cluster Action Initiative, which has ramped up testing in “red zones” in Queens and Brooklyn in New York City and in Orange and Rockland counties.

The red zones have strict restrictions on gatherings, schools, and businesses and are surrounded by orange and then yellow zones with lesser restrictions.

Cuomo also noted that New York State carefully tracks hospitalizations because it tells where the serious cases are. Forty percent of Sunday’s hospitalizations were from areas in hotspot zones downstate and Southern Tier counties.

On Monday, based on Sunday test results, New York State’s positivity rating without the red zone results was at 1.05 percent. Including the red zones, the positivity rate was 1.12 percent.

In the red zones alone, the positivity rate was 3.70 percent, down from the 6.13 percent average from last week, although weekend test results are often not reflective of actual trends.

Cuomo noted, as he frequently has since last week, that the red zones are home to 2.8 percent of the state’s population. Yet the red zones had 7.9 percent of all positive test results reported on Sunday and 17.6 of all positive results reported last week.

Cuomo also said that the autumn, as projected, has brought on increases in COVID-19 cases across the nation. He stressed that this is not a “second wave,” which is when a virus mutates and comes back.

“We’re still in the first wave, and this is just an inability to deal with the first wave nationwide ...,” said Cuomo. “So, I think it’s realistic to say, at least for a year, you will be dealing with COVID. That’s without the mutated virus, et cetera, and that may be an optimistic scenario.”

Even once an effective vaccine is developed, he said, it will take time to get enough people to take it to make it safe for resuming normal life.


Newest numbers

The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, had a positivity rate of 0.9 percent, based on Sunday’s test results.

Half of the state’s 10 regions had rates at over 1 percent: Central New York, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Western New York.

The lowest rate, as usual, was in the North Country, at 0.2 percent.

As of Monday morning, Albany County had 3,190 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy’s office, an increase of 10 new positive cases since yesterday.

Of the new cases, seven had close contact with someone infected with the disease, one is a healthcare worker or resident of a congregate setting, and two did not have a clear source of transmission detected at this time. Separately, three of the new cases are associated with the University at Albany.

Currently, 927 county residents are under quarantine, down from 967. The five-day average for new daily positives decreased to 17.2 from 20.6. There are now 111 active cases in the county, one more than on Sunday.

So far, 13,784 county residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,079 had tested positive and recovered.

No new county residents were hospitalized overnight, so five remain in the hospital with one in an intensive-care unit. The county’s hospitalization rate has decreased to 0.15 percent.

Albany County’sCOVID-19 death toll remains at 136.

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