County exec warns just-opened theaters will close if COVID-19 uptick continues

Regal Cinema in Crossgates Mall

Regal Cinema in Crossgates Mall was closed down in March, when coronavirus hit the Capital Region.

ALBANY COUNTY — Another county resident has died of COVID-19 — a man in his fifties who did not live in a nursing home.

This brings Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll to 139.

In addition to announcing the death, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy also announced 26 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019.

He noted in a press release that Friday marked the reopening of area movie theaters, which had been closed since mid-March, and called the theaters “incredibly important to the local economy and many hardworking families in need of jobs.”

McCoy went on, “But the only way we’re going to keep them open is if we keep our positivity rate below 2 percent over a 14-day rolling average, and Albany County hit 1.92 percent on Wednesday.”

“We’re seeing some concerning data from our hospitals,” he said. “Over the last week, the number of residents currently hospitalized has remained in the double digits and the total number of hospitalizations has jumped by 11 since then. We need everyone to continue being cautious, wear masks, and socially distance.”

Currently, 13 county residents are hospitalized for COVID-19 with two of them in intensive-care units.

Statewide, the positivity rate, based on Thursday’s test results is 1.15 percent.

In the areas with micro-clusters of COVID-19 — in Queens and Brooklyn in New York City; in Orange and Rockland counties in the Mid-Hudson region; and in Broome, Steuben, and Chemung counties near the Pennsylvania border —  the rate is 2.31 percent.

More COVID-19 tests are given in those areas and they are placed under strict guidelines to quell the spread of the virus.

All but one of the state’s 10 regions had a positivity rate of 1 percent or higher based on Thursday’s test results; the North Country was at 0.8 percent. The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, was at 1.0 percent.


Crackdown continues

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the state has suspended liquor licenses for 21 additional bars and restaurants after finding “egregious violations of pandemic-related executive orders,” including three establishments illegally operating within focus zones designated by the state as part of its micro-cluster strategy.

One of the suspensions, at Celtic Hall at 430 New Karner Road, on Oct. 18, was in Albany County.

On Oct. 11, Colonie Police officers responded to noise complaints at the club and found over 200 patrons “packed inside the premises,” according to a release from the governor’s office. “Individuals were standing, drinking, and mingling, with several patrons smoking marijuana and all ignoring social-distancing protocols.”

Colonie Police had dispersed a crowd at the club on Sept. 20, and temporarily closed the club in response to a noise complaint. At that time, officers found more than 100 patrons standing, dancing, and ignoring social distancing, with officers noting neither staff nor patrons wearing facial coverings, the release said.   

These new suspensions bring the total number of liquor licenses suspended during the coronavirus pandemic to 238. In total, 1,362 charges have been filed against bars and restaurants for violating coronavirus-related rules. Businesses found in violation of these regulations face fines up to $10,000 per violation, while egregious violations can result in the immediate suspension of a bar or restaurant’s liquor license.

“Rules are only as good as enforcement …,” said Cuomo. “A small number of business owners still don’t think the rules apply to them ….”


State supports more companies to make COVID supplies

Also on Friday, Cuomo announced that eight additional New York companies have received state support to produce needed supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, more than $16 million in grants have been awarded to 28 qualifying New York-based companies to retool their business lines and pivot to manufacturing supplies needed for ongoing response and recovery efforts.

“During the pandemic, the nation learned the hard lesson of not having adequate and readily available supplies made in the United States. As a result, we had to scramble for live-saving products that are mainly manufactured overseas,” Cuomo said in a statement, making the announcement.

In March, he had asked companies with New York-based operations to retool production lines to manufacture approved COVID-19 critical supplies, such as ventilators, test kits, and personal protective equipment — including N95 respirators, surgical masks, gowns, and face shields. 

Previously, the state invested in 20 companies to manufacture supplies to address COVID-19, eight of which were previously awarded $4 million to help make the products in New York State.


Newest numbers

As of Friday morning, Albany County has 3,395 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the release from McCoy’s office.

Of the 26 new cases, 10 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, three reported out-of-state travel, three were health-care workers or residents of congregate settings, and 10 did not have a clear source of infection identified at this time.

The county now has 1,045 residents under quarantine, down from 1,066. The five-day average for new daily positives increased to 18.8 from 16.8. There are now 123 active cases in the county, up from 118 on Thursday.

So far, 15,147 county residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 3,272 had tested positive and recovered.

Joined: 01/01/2015 - 10:51

Editor Melissa Hale-Spencer provides essential updates on communities’ responses to the virus. Bravo. With gratitude.

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