ALBANY — On a day when a huge snowstorm diverted attention from the long-running pandemic, Albany County officials Thursday reported another new single-day record-high number of positive COVID tests.
Some 222 new infections were recorded, topping the previous single-day high of 208 set last week, County Executive Daniel McCoy said during his daily briefing.
The briefing was largely focused on the storm, but McCoy also had the sad duty of reporting five more COVID-related deaths in the county: three women and two men in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
“While we bounce back from the storm, we’re still grappling with the COVID crisis on our hands, as we see our daily positive cases and the number of residents hospitalized reach record levels,” McCoy said. “County hospitalizations have been trending upwards since Friday, reaching its peak of 100 today. The only way we’re going to turn this around is by staying home as much as possible, avoiding large gatherings and wearing a mask when out in public.”
The Capital Region also hit a record with 328 hospitalizations.
McCoy noted that as a percentage of the population, the 328 COVID patients hospitalized in the Capital Region is one of the lower numbers statewide.
The 7-day average positive rate reported Thursday for diagnostic COVID tests across the greater Capital Region:
- Albany County 6.9%
- Fulton County 7.9%
- Montgomery County 6.3%
- Rensselaer County 5.8%
- Saratoga County 6.6%
- Schenectady County 8.0%
- Schoharie County 8.8%
Warren County health officials warned Thursday of an apparent scam by people claiming to be contact tracers from two other Capital Region counties and asking for personal information.
Two Warren County residents said they were contacted in this manner Thursday, and were told a close contact had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Both were suspicious and called Warren County Health Services.
Warren County checked a state database — neither of the scammers was listed.
Warren County said that when a contact-tracing effort crosses case lines, the other counties defer to the home county of the person of interest, so cross-border calls can be a red flag.
Also this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York announced formation of a partnership with the federal Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to investigate and prosecute fraud relating to funding provided through the CARES Act, the over-$2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by Congress in March.
Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said in a news release: “This partnership is part of our effort to investigate and prosecute the fraudsters who have stolen from government-backed relief programs during the coronavirus pandemic. We look forward to working with SIGPR to prosecute bad actors, deter further fraud, and recover ill-gotten gains.”
Her office said the memorandum of understanding was not in response to a particular instance of fraud, or to a suspicion that there is a greater concentration of fraud in the Northern District.
Rather, it is another tool to prosecute those who misuse CARES funding. Similar agreements have been put in place in some of the other federal judicial districts across the nation.
Special Inspector General Brian D. Miller said: “We will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York to hold accountable and bring to justice those who improperly take or use taxpayer dollars meant to support the nation’s economic health and recovery.”