Albany County could be a day away from being declared a yellow zone

Positive COVID-19 cases by ZIP code in Albany County

Positive COVID-19 cases by ZIP code in Albany County, as of Nov. 29, 2020.

ALBANY COUNTY — According to the state’s dashboard, Albany County has now had nine days in a row with a positive testing rate, calculated as a seven-day rolling average, of 3-percent or higher.

If this rate holds for one more day, Albany County, or parts of it, could be designated as a yellow zone, the least restrictive of three micro-cluster zones.

That seems likely as on Sunday, based on Saturday’s test results, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced 90 new COVID-19 cases.

He also announced another death from the disease. A man in his nineties who lived in a nursing home is the county’s latest victim of the coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the county’s death toll to 158. 

On Friday, McCoy had questioned the state’s calculations and said, according to his math, the required 10-day streak had already been broken.

A spokesman for the governor’s office did not answer an email seeking to clear up the discrepancy.

The state’s dashboard says that on Nov. 20, 21, and 22, Albany County had a seven-day rolling average of 3.1 percent followed by an average of 3.0 on Nov. 23, 24, and 25. Further, the state reports a seven-day rolling average of 3.6 percent on Nov. 26, of 3.5 percent on Nov. 27, and of 3.8 percent on Nov. 28. 

Micro-cluster designations are meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 without shutting down an entire regional economy. Red zones have the most severe infection rates and the most limiting restrictions followed by orange warning zones and yellow precautionary zones.

Yellow-zone restrictions include half capacity for houses of worship — although Wednesday’s United States Supreme Court decision may change that — indoor and outdoor restaurant dining limited to four people at a table, a limit of 25 people at non-residential gatherings, and residential gatherings of no more than 10 people — which is required statewide by executive order.

Also, while schools in yellow zones remain open, 20 percent of the in-person students and staff must be tested weekly for COVID-19.

“It’s the percentage increase that is relevant,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday in a conference call with reporters. He quoted Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, as calling the current upward trend of infections as “a surge upon surge.”

 “And he talked about through the holidays and New Year’s,” said Cuomo of Fauci. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. We’ve been talking about the 37 days of the holiday season starting at Thanksgiving,” said Cuomo, noting that increased social activity means an increased infection rate.

“Italy is using  the army now to enforce closedowns,” said Cuomo. “California announced another basic shutdown.”

He said that, over the weekend, he has been talking to health officials and local governments about “a winter plan, a next-phase plan” to deal with COVID-19, and would release details about that plan in the coming week.

Cuomo also noted that New York City will be reopening schools, which he thinks is the right direction.

“We do have new facts and new information on schools,” he said. “Just about every professional says the schools, especially K-8, should be kept open whenever it's possible to keep them open safely. We have done testing in schools and we now know what we're looking at in schools. The positivity rate is much, much lower. It's literally safer for a child and the teacher to be in the school than in the community.”


Newest numbers

Statewide, New York had a positivity rate of 4.27 percent reported on Sunday, based on Saturday’s test results, which included the micro-cluster zones with a combined rate of 5.83 percent.

The Capital Region, of which Albany County is a part, had a seven-day average of 2.7 percent. The lowest of the state’s 10 regions was the Southern Tier at 1.96 percent. The highest current seven-day average was again in Western New York, at 6.69 percent.

As of Sunday morning, Albany County had 5,642 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a release from McCoy’s office.

Of the 90 new cases, 18 had close contact with someone infected with the disease, 71 did not have a clear source of infection identified at this time, and one is a health-care worker or resident of a congregate setting.

Currently, 2,256 county residents are under quarantine, down from 2,311. The five-day average for new daily positives decreased to 101.2 from 103.4.

There are now 900 active cases in the county, down from 915 on Saturday.

So far, 23,003 people have completed quarantine. Of those, 4,742 had tested positive and recovered.

Eleven more county residents were hospitalized since Saturday, and there are now 67 currently hospitalized from the virus, a net increase of six. Eight of those patients are in intensive-care units. The hospitalization rate is now 1.18 percent.

McCoy called the spike in hospitalizations “alarming.”

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