COVID-19 uptick continues in Albany County

ALBANY COUNTY — On Friday, Albany County announced 21 new cases of COVID-19 and also said that a server working at a pub in Delmar has tested positive for the disease.

The server, at O’Slattery’s Irish Restaurant and Pub at 318 Delaware Ave. in Delmar, worked last Saturday, Oct. 10, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

People in the restaurant during those times should be aware that they may have been exposed, the county’s health department said in a notice, adding, “If they are concerned they should contact their healthcare providers and consider testing.”

Also on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an expansion of food stamps, now called SNAP, to nearly 75,000 low-income college students who are enrolled in career or technical education courses.

At the same time, the application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be shortened to encourage more old or disabled New Yorkers to apply.

“From the community college student seeking to advance their career to the senior living on a fixed income, food insecurity and hunger are a reality for a wide breadth of low-income New Yorkers and we have an obligation to help them during their time in need,” said Cuomo in a statement, announcing the changes.

About 70 percent of eligible seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities are enrolled to receive benefits, which is significantly lower than the statewide participation rate estimate of roughly 93 percent, according to a release from the governor’s office.

One leading reason proposed for this lower participation is the length and complexity of the application forms to apply for SNAP. The regular application includes nine pages of questions and information geared at determining a household’s eligibility, the release said; the new form will be shorter and simpler.

Because many elderly and disabled New Yorkers live on fixed incomes and generally experience far fewer household changes, much less information is required to verify their eligibility and calculate benefits, according to the governor’s office.

Also on Friday, Chris Tague, a Republican state assemblyman from Schoharie, called on Cuomo and the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to “take aggressive actions” to stop the spread of COVID-19 at the Greene Correctional Facility.

More than 90 inmates and 14 workers have tested positive in the last two weeks. Tague and other lawmakers are calling for adequate personal protective equipment for officers and staff, for more testing, for suspension of inmate transports, for an end to visits until the outbreak is under control, and for a prohibition of contact between inmates.

Finally on Friday, the Empire Center for Public Policy, a government watchdog group and fiscally conservative think tank, launched a webpage to update the public about its Freedom of Information Law suit against the state’s health department.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany in September, is seeking a complete count of coronavirus deaths among residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The state has reported deaths of residents who died at the facilities but not those who lived in the facilities but died of COVID-19 in hospitals.


Newest numbers

The statewide positivity rate on Friday was 1.25 percent, Cuomo announced, with the hotspot areas — clusters of COVID-19 downstate — at 4.84 percent. Without the hotspots included, the rate in all other parts of the state — more than 97 percent of the population — was at 1.14 percent.

Based on Thursday’s test results, the Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, had a positivity rate of 0.7 percent — one of three, out of 10, regions below the 1-percent target.

The other two were the North Country at 0.5 percent and the Mohawk Valley at 0.3 percent.

As of Friday morning, Albany County has 3,275  confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019, according to a release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy’s Office.

Of the 21 new cases, 10 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, two reported out-of-state travel, one is a healthcare worker or a resident of a congregate setting, and eight did not have a clear source of infection detected at this time.

Since classes resumed at the University at Albany, which has campuses both downtown and uptown, partly in Guilderland, the county had reported daily on how many of the new COVID-19 cases had come from UAlbany. That reporting stopped on Thursday.

The state’s SUNY COVID-19 Case Tracker on Friday evening showed that UAlbany has had nine new cases since Oct. 10, and that 25 of the 230 rooms set aside for quarantine are in use. Since the tally began, on Aug. 28, UAlbany has had an estimated 173 total positive cases.

As of Friday morning, 1,067 Albany County residents are under quarantined, up from 914 on Thursday. The five-day average for new daily positives also increased to 19.6 from 18.6. There are now 118 active cases in the county, up from 109 on Thursday.

So far, 14,265 county residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,157 had tested positive and recovered.

Ten county residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, up from seven on Thursday. One patient remains in an intensive-care unit. The county’s hospitalization rate has increased to 0.30 percent from 0.21 percent.

The Albany County COVID-19 death toll remains at 136.


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