CAPITAL REGION – After a “dark month” of November that saw COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations steadily increase, local health officials continued to worry Saturday about the month and winter season ahead.
“I think when we look back on November and the numbers that we’ve seen we are recognizing that November was a dark month and it has positioned us, unfortunately, very poorly for the upcoming holiday season,” Albany County Public Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said Saturday. “People need to be mindful, people need to know that this could get a lot worse before it gets better.”
COVID-19 numbers continued Saturday to track upward Saturday, two days after the Thanksgiving holiday and weeks ahead of Christmas and the official start of winter.
The Capital Region’s overall seven-day average positive rate stood at a comparatively good percentage of 2.76 percent, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. That number remained fourth lowest among the state’s 10 regions. Western New York remained the highest region at 6.53 percent.
Still, the most recent three days of reporting have all pushed the Capital Region’s numbers higher. The most recent numbers reported Saturday came in at 3.4 percent.
“We are entering a challenging period of sustained COVID-19 spread across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. “It’s up to you, your neighborhood and your community to slow the spread. Our micro-cluster strategy can target very small areas with restrictions, so the actions each of us take and the actions our neighbors take may seem small, but they make a big difference. New York has one of the nation’s lowest infection rates and the nation’s highest testing capacity, but it will take the vigilance of New Yorkers to get us through the holidays and through this pandemic.”
Schenectady County saw another 36 new positives reported Saturday out of 474 tests. Schenectady County’s new positives came in lower than in recent days, but so did the number of tests reported. In all, Schenectady County’s positive rate for Saturday’s numbers stood at 7.6 percent.
Saratoga County saw 29 new positives found out of 1,034 tests reported. Montgomery County saw 6 out of 213, Fulton County six out of 125 and Schoharie County four out of 73.
Albany County saw 63 new positives out of 1,911 tests reported, according to state numbers. Albany County also reported multiple new deaths Saturday, six in all.
“It’s been 38 weeks, almost nine months,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said Saturday. “I know people are tired, but the reality is our numbers are going up and they continue to continue to go up.”
Of 67 total new positives that Albany County itself reported, 15 had close contact with positive cases, one was a health care worker and 51 had no clear source of infection.
All but one of the newly reported Albany County resident deaths were not from a group setting or a nursing home. They included a woman in her 50s, a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 70s and a man and woman in their 80s, McCoy said.
The last time Albany County reported six resident deaths was May 4, officials said.
“To lose six residents overnight is alarming. It’s very, very alarming,” McCoy said, “and I hope people are waking up and realizing that COVID-19 is here and we can’t have fatigue and we have to be more vigilant now than we’ve ever been before.”
Officials also touched again on holiday gatherings. Whalen again asked that individuals not hold gatherings this year due to the risk.
She noted the accompanying increases in hospitalizations and the ultimate concern of hospital capacity.
Albany County Saturday reported 61 residents currently hospitalized, up from 43 reported Friday. The increase included better reporting from the hospitals to the county, officials said, but 12 of those were newly admitted Nov. 25 or later.
“As we’ve said daily, what you do now will influence what happens here in the coming days and weeks and we cannot afford for things to get worse,” Whalen said.
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