Albany County

Albany County warns of COVID increase

Employees work at a testing tent outside Albany Med in March.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Employees work at a testing tent outside Albany Med in March.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, News

ALBANY — Albany County warned Thursday that its residents are testing positive for COVID-19 in worrisome numbers, with nearly as many confirmed infections in the first half of October as in the first half of April, at the height of the pandemic.

The first infection was confirmed March 12 in Albany County, the most populous county in the region, and since then it has had the highest totals in the Capital Region on all metrics: 160,038 people tested, 3,255 people confirmed infected, 14,179 people quarantined, 136 people dead.

It’s difficult to compare test results so far in October with those in the first half of April, because the testing infrastructure was limited then.

From April 1 to 15, the number of people tested per day ranged from 86 to 332, compared with 819 to 2,240 per day Oct. 1-14 — so by sheer numbers, there’s a greater chance of detecting an infection now.

But back in April, tests were being reserved for those mostly likely to be sick — so by design, there was a greater chance of detecting an infection then.

“I said it from the beginning, this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” County Executive Daniel McCoy said at a briefing Thursday. “Unfortunately, our numbers continue to go up.”

Many European countries and many U.S. states are trending upward much more sharply than Albany County, where positive test percentages on a rolling average have been below 2 percent for more than four months. McCoy said it’s too soon to declare this a second wave, but he doesn’t know what else to call it.

“We don’t know what it is and we’re trying to figure it out,” he said.

The purpose of Thursday’s message was to get people to be more conscientious about preventing the spread.

“It’s not going away in the 21 days to the election. It’s still going to be there,” he said.

Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen asked people to get a flu shot so as to not compound any new crisis this winter by adding a stream of flu patients to a large number of COVID patients in the hospital.

“We are watching to see if this uptick remains consistent,” she said. “The good news on this is that when we worked together in April, we were able to keep the numbers such that we did not see a great deal of hospital surge capacity being tested.”

She also gave an early advisory on the upcoming holiday season — Thursday was exactly six weeks before Thanksgiving — and said the big family get-togethers are a potential scene for spreading the virus in 2020.

“This year has to be different,” she said.

Also on Thursday, Schenectady County reported its 50th COVID-related death, a woman in her 80s. And it reported 13 positive tests, its first double-digit total in nearly a month.

The other counties in the greater Capital Region each reported a handful of new infections, most in the low-single digits.

Across the region, the number of positive test results reported Wednesday as a percentage of tests administered ranged from 0.2 percent in Rensselaer County to 2.1 percent in Greene County.

In Albany County the 26 positives constituted 1.4 percent of 1,823 persons tested.

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