CLIFTON PARK — A few hours of basketball last Saturday at Clifton Commons in Clifton Park has led to what Saratoga County public health officials are calling a “high-risk” exposure to COVID-19 for people who played.
An individual who is now COVID-positive played basketball without a mask at Clifton Commons between noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, and county officials said some of the people who took part in the pickup games are unknown at this time.
“This is considered a high-risk COVID-19 exposure,” county officials said in a press release Friday. “The high-risk exposure as described was completely avoidable. We are appealing to the residents of Saratoga County to help us stop the spread of COVID-19. Individual actions have consequences; please be responsible!”
Also on Friday, the Shenendehowa Central School District notified parents, students and staff that a person associated with Shenendehowa High School East tested positive for COVID-19. Medical confidentiality laws make it impossible to determine if the two exposures are from the same person.
Rick Knizek, the Shenendehowa sports athletic trainer, said high school athletes are required to wear masks during play, and he’s been concerned that non-school athletics — including those at Clifton Commons — aren’t observing the requirement for masks in close proximity. Partipating in athletics outside of school could potentially expose school athletes, he said, which could threaten the future of the school sports seasons.
“It would be helpful to us if we were all on the same page in terms of all playing by the same set of rules,” Knizek said.
The school district, in its statement on Friday, said the Saratoga County Public Health Department has identified through contact tracing those students or staff who had prolonged, direct contact with the COVID-positive person. Those people will be in quarantine until cleared by the Health Department. The warning about the basketball game exposure is the first “high-risk” alert the county has issued since the pandemic began, though there have been a number of “low-risk” exposures to the public. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed is urged to monitor themselves for symptoms and may seek free testing, the county said.
Saratoga County Public Health also reported a low-risk exposure Oct. 7 at the Fairways of Halfmoon Pro Shop in Halfmoon. A person worked from 6:30 a.m. to noon, but was wearing a mask at all times.
The new exposure reports in Saratoga County come as the Capital Region continues to grapple with a generally low but steady number of COVID cases, with major counties reporting handfuls of new cases on a daily basis.
Albany County Public Health, meanwhile, reported a public exposure at O’Slattery’s Irish Restaurant and Pub at 318 Delaware Aven. in Delmar. The server worked Saturday, Oct. 10 from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office reported that Albany County had 14 new cases, Rensselaer County had 13 new cases, Saratoga and Schenectady counties each had eight new cases, Schoharie County had three new cases, and Montgomery County had two new cases. There were no new deaths in the immediate region, though Columbia County had one of the 10 deaths reported statewide.
Outside of identified “hot spots” for virus transmission in Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland and Orange counties, the Governor’s Office said the positive-test rate statewide remains around 1 percent. The most recent rates for the Capital Region were 0.7 percent, and 0.3 percent for the Mohawk Valley.
The total number of statewide hospitalizations rose to 918, more than double the low-point at the beginning of September, and the highest number since late June. Capital Region hospitalizations were 46 on Thursday, more than double since mid-September.
Nationwide, meanwhile, the number of cases is growing again in recent weeks, with the worst outbreaks, as a percentage of population, in Wisconsin and the northern Great Plains states.