ALBANY — COVID-19’s persistent nature and potentially rapid spread are on display in the Mohawk Valley, where infection clusters have helped bump the positive test rate nearly twice as high as any other region in the state.
An aluminum manufacturing plant in Montgomery County now has 74 of its 530 employees confirmed positive for the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, up from 38 on Friday.
The Keymark factory is linked to an infection cluster at a workplace 100 miles away in Oswego County via shared connections in Oneida County between the two groups of employees. The positive test rate in Oneida County was 4.0% Sunday, more than double any other county in the state.
On a seven-day rolling average, the six-county Mohawk Valley region is testing positive at 2.0%, compared with 1.2% in New York City, the one-time epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, where 15% of the nation’s COVID fatalities have been recorded.
Cuomo said another cluster has been detected on the outskirts of the Capital Region — at a slate quarry in Washington County, where 12 employees are known to be infected.
“This is actually good news,” Cuomo told reporters Monday morning. “It means the system works. You find a positive, you trace it back, you find the common denominator, and that’s how you stop the spread.”
Five of the state’s 10 designated regions are now in Phase 4 of the economic reopening of New York’s economy. Cuomo said Monday that Western New York is cleared to begin Phase 4 on Tuesday.
The Capital Region is eligible as soon as Wednesday.
New York City, the last region to start reopening, will become eligible for Phase 3 next Monday but the state may not allow indoor dining to begin there immediately because too many people are failing to follow safe practices and there’s too little enforcement and penalties at the local level.
Cuomo also raised the specter of the worsening pandemic in 32 states undoing the progress New York state has made against COVID-19, through reinfections by travelers.
The federal Centers for Disease Control tallied 5,037 new positive tests in New York state in the seven days ending Monday. That’s 14th highest among the 50 states. Leading the list were Florida (46,897 new cases), California (41,934), Texas (40,998) and Arizona (24,110).
“It is time to wake up, America. The White House has been in denial on coronavirus from the get-go and their federal response has just been wrong,” the governor said.
Cuomo called on President Trump to essentially follow his lead, and ratchet up his COVID-19 response to include things like a national order to wear masks.
- Cuomo said large indoor malls — so far denied the opportunity to reopen with other retailers — will need to install HEPA filters on their ventilation systems before they can reopen.
- The statewide COVID hospital census dropped to 853 and seven COVID deaths were reported statewide.
- The governor displayed a large green mountain, steep on one side, gradually sloped on the other, that represented the state’s battle with COVID-19 since March 1. The model was immediately mocked in the Twitterverse — one person photoshopped the face of Jabba the Hutt onto it — but it was an effective reminder of how far New York has come.
- The Fulton County Public Health department invited residents to send in high-resolution photos (3.75 megabit) of themselves wearing their COVID-19 masks to [email protected] by July 17 for a billboard contest.