Sarah Gordon, Rensselaerville

The federal government made several shifts in COVID policy this week: Requiring international travelers to test negative before flying to the United States, changing the guidance for vaccine eligibility, and releasing doses originally held back.

New York State is opening points of dispensing, known as PODs, to give COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents. This one, in the northwest parking lot on the uptown University at Albany campus, off of Washington Avenue Extension, is to open on Friday, Jan. 15 for people with appointments. Currently, all slots through March are filled.

The latest shift in federal policy allows 7 million New Yorkers to get vaccinated — people 65 and older are now eligible — yet the state gets just 300,000 doses a week.

Depending on the facility and the day, hospitals in the region are at 70- to 80-percent capacity. “Once we get to 85 percent, we get nervous,” said James Reed, the president and chief executive officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners. That is the number set by the state’s winter plan for battling COVID-19, requiring a region, at 21 days, to shut down.

Under New York's expanded eligibility, the following individuals will now be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment:


Much of Andrew Cuomo’s speech on Monday — to be followed with several later presentations — dealt with initiatives spawned because of the coronavirus. He detailed plans for vaccinations, ways to deal with the economic crisis, and to “address the systemic injustices exposed during this year’s low-tide in America: the inequity, the racism, and the social abuse.”

The decision to go remote was made after a teacher at Clayton A. Bouton High School in New Scotland tested positive for COVID-19 and contact-tracing revealed that a number of teachers would have to quarantine after coming into contact with their colleague.

“Many, many seniors are afraid to go out,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “They will not take public transportation. They will not get in a taxi.” So, once COVID-19 vaccine is available, Mohawk Ambulance, working with the city and county, will vaccinate residents 75 and older in their homes.

Saturday, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced 268 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths from the disease, bringing the county’s toll to 249.


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