Capital Region

COVID infection rate in larger Capital Region counties rebounds

Upswing began in mid-June, continued through mid-July, lifted counties above statewide average
A drive-through COVID-19 test site is shown in April in Schenectady.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A drive-through COVID-19 test site is shown in April in Schenectady.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

ALBANY — COVID-19 infections continue to be tallied in small numbers in the Capital Region, but not as small as they had been a month ago.

The large counties in the region all saw their positive test rates more than double from mid-June to mid-July as measured on a seven-day average, which is a better way to observe trends than single-day results.

From June 19 to July 19:

  • Albany County climbed from 0.7% to 1.5%, peaking at 1.8% along the way;
  • Rensselaer County climbed from 0.4% to 1.3%, peaking at 2.2% along the way;
  • Saratoga County climbed from 0.5% to 0.7%, peaking at 1.2% along the way;
  • Schenectady County climbed from 0.8% to 1.5%, peaking at 1.7% along the way.

Meanwhile, COVID-related hospitalizations across the Capital Region climbed at a fairly steady pace from 21 on July 5 to 37 on July 18, state data indicate.

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These spikes have come even as the statewide seven-day average remained steady at 1.0% to 1.2% and as hospitalizations statewide have steadily declined.

The smaller, more rural counties in the Capital Region — Columbia, Greene, Warren and Washington — saw smaller spikes or no spike at all in infection rate.

The recent tally of positive tests in the large Capital Region counties fluctuates greatly — Albany County’s one-day total ranged from one to 44 in the past week, Schenectady County’s from zero to 15. But even the high numbers are small compared with the height of the pandemic.

Spike in a county’s infection rate often can be traced to a single location or incident.

One notable example: 22 infections are now linked to a large Albany block party July 4, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said Monday.

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Also Monday, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin said that the infection cluster at the Riverside Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Schodack has grown to 34 residents and 19 employees. A 91-year-old woman was the second resident of the facility to die, and the 33rd in the county.

Elder-care facilities have had an outsized impact on the infection and death rates in some counties: 142 of Columbia County’s 465 confirmed COVID infections have been at a single nursing home, for example, and 31 of the 33 people who have died of COVID in Warren County lived in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

State officials are sufficiently worried about large gatherings such as the Albany block party that Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday threatened to shut down bars and restaurants statewide if they don’t do a better job preventing the crowds in close contact that harken back to the pre-COVID era.

Cuomo is following a dual track in attempting to preserve the extensive progress New York state has made blocking the pandemic: Cajoling New Yorkers to stay on their guard and badgering the federal government and other states to do a better job controlling the outbreaks across the nation that could rebound and reinfect New York.

After New York tamped down the pandemic, Cuomo has repeatedly offered help to other states. In the last 10 days he has followed through in three Republican-led states battling infection surges — sending doses of the COVID-19 medication remdesivir to Florida; establishing two testing clinics in Houston; and, on Monday, announcing two testing sites in Savannah, Georgia, plus a stockpile of medical supplies to be delivered there.

Since the first COVID-19 infection was confirmed in New York state March 1, 5,164,812 diagnostic tests had been administered as of midnight Sunday; 407,326 positive results were recorded; and 25,056 people had died of the disease by the state’s official tally, which Cuomo has acknowledged undercounts the actual total.

On Sunday, 49,342 tests were administered, 519 infections were confirmed and eight people died.

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