ALBANY — The Capital Region continues to show significant progress emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the fewest people hospitalized since March 27 and the smallest-ever percentage testing positive for the virus.
Similar positive indicators are being reported statewide as the ranks of New Yorkers known to be infected steadily declines.
Nine of ten regions of the state are now in Phase 2 of restarting their economies. New York City, hardest-hit by the disease, entered Phase 1 just this week.
As early as Friday, the Mohawk Valley and four other regions may be cleared to enter Phase 3, in which indoor restaurant dining and personal care services such as tattooing, piercing, massage, manicure, tanning and waxing can resume with restrictions. The Capital Region could begin Phase 3 as soon as June 17.
“We’re at the point of reopening the economy,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during his daily briefing Wednesday.
Accomplishing this while keeping the highly contagious virus at bay will be the challenge, he said.
“Reopening is actually much harder than closing,” the governor said. “Closing was abrupt and disruptive, but it was simple. Everything is closed. Reopening is more delicate and more nuanced. If you look at the states and the countries that have been reopening, more of them have gotten into trouble than not. As we sit here today, states are getting into trouble.”
With more than 50,000 New Yorkers being tested for COVID-19 each day, there’s an excellent barometer to indicate whether the state is successfully balancing safety and economy.
“The numbers to watch now are the daily testing results,” Cuomo said.
It is not a real-time barometer, however. If infections were to spike upward because of widespread unsafe or incautious public behavior, it would be a week or two before the positive test rate would start to increase.
On a seven-day rolling average as of Tuesday, tests administered in the eight-county Capital Region are positive at a rate of just 0.7%, down from 1.4% a week earlier and 6.9% a month earlier.
In the Mohawk Valley, 1.2% of those tested are being confirmed positive, down from 1.4% a week ago and 5.5% a month ago.
In both regions, the positive test percentage was much higher in early April but the numbers are not comparable, as much less testing was being done then and many of the tests were reserved for those showing symptoms.
For example, 3,127 people were tested in the Capital Region on June 9 vs. 424 on April 9. The seven-day average was 0.7% positive on June 9 vs. 13.3% on April 9.
Meanwhile, 56 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday in the Capital Region, the fewest since March 27 and far less than the peak of 205, reached April 10.
The official state death toll stood at 24,404 on Wednesday. One new fatality was reported in the Capital Region, an Albany County woman in her 70s.