Another death added to county’s COVID toll

— From the NYS Comptroller’s Office

Emergency federal funds received to date for state and local fiscal stabilization total $13.1 billion while so far  $387.1 million has been spent.

ALBANY COUNTY — The county’s string of deaths related to COVID-19 continues with the death on Wednesday of a resident in their fifties. This brings the county’s death toll from the virus to 415.
“Sadly, this is now the eighth day in a row that I’m reporting a new COVID-related death in Albany County,” said the county’s executive, Daniel McCoy, in his Thursday morning release.

“The science is clear — getting vaccinated dramatically reduces your chances of serious illness, hospitalization and death,” he went on. “Don’t think that this can’t happen to you. Please don’t wait to get the shot.”

The county is holding a vaccination clinic on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Berne-Knox-Westerlo at 1738 Helderberg Trail. First doses as well as Pfizer booster shots will be administered. Residents are encouraged to register in advance at the county’s website.

McCoy also reported 108 new cases of COVID-19. There are now 495 active cases in the county, up from 477 on Wednesday.

The number of Albany County residents under mandatory quarantine jumped to 1,004 from 889.

There were three new hospitalizations since Wednesday, and there are now a total of 32 county residents currently hospitalized with the coronavirus – a net decrease of two. Seven of those hospital patients are now in intensive-care units, down from eight yesterday.

The infection rate for Albany County, as a seven-day average, as of Wednesday, was 3.4 percent, according to the state’s dashboard. Statewide, the infection rate is 2.5 percent.

Of the state’s 10 regions, New York City is the lowest at 1.3 percent while the North Country is the highest at 6.0 percent.


Federal funds tracked

The state comptroller’s website is now featuring a COVID-19 Relief Program Tracker to monitor federal relief funds received during the pandemic and eight programs that offer targeted assistance to New Yorkers most severely impacted by the pandemic.

The tracker explains when each funding stream or program was authorized, how it is designed, and how much has been received and spent to date. The data will be updated monthly and will be expanded over time as more information becomes available, the website says.

The emergency federal funds include $12.7 billion to the New York State government, $14.7 billion to school districts, $9.9 billion to counties and cities, and $774 million to towns and villages.

Decisions on spending are left up to those entities.

For example, federal funds for state and local fiscal stabilization total $13.5 billion: $12.7 billion is for the state and $774 million is for local purposes.

Funds received to date total $13.1 billion while so far  $387.1 million has been spent.

The state received $385 million in “pass through” funding to eligible “non-entitlement” local governments, with an additional $389 million for these local governments expected at a later date. These local governments typically serve a population under 50,000 and were ineligible to receive direct payments due to federal program restrictions. 

“New York is seeing an historic level of federal funding right now,” said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a statement, “and our job is to follow the money and ensure funds are used wisely and administered efficiently.”


Vaccine-scheduling investigation concludes

The Offices of the New York State Inspector General on Thursday released the findings of its investigation of the state health department’s COVID-19 vaccination scheduling website, which found myriad unintentional factors led to more than 28,000 premature appointments made by members of the public in January 2021.

The investigation found no evidence that systems had been compromised by cyber criminals or that State employees or contractors who possessed advanced access to scheduling links leaked them to the public. However, it found several factors caused premature public access to the system.

The investigation found that the public were unaware they were prematurely using website links or that they were bypassing the required screening tool. However, even for those who bypassed the screening tool, the Vaccine Data System contained an eligibility attestation and proof of eligibility was required at vaccination sites.

The findings are timely, the report says, given the current expansion of vaccine eligibility to include booster shots and the anticipated deployment of vaccines for children ages five to 11. 

More Regional News

  • Boosters are recommended because the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes over time.

  • Albany County suffered three COVID deaths this week: a man in his seventies died on Thursday, a man in his sixties died on Friday, and a woman in her nineties died on Saturday. Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 439.

  • “This is an opportunity in this post-pandemic world to let people know, get the skills, go into apprenticeship programs, get trained,” said Governor Kathy Hochul, speaking from the county’s airport on Monday enroute to the White House for the signing of the infrastructure bill. “There’s jobs waiting for you to help rebuild this great state after we were knocked down so far.”

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