COVID-19 cases continued an upward climb over the weekend as Gov. Andrew Cuomo again warned about the risks of holidays and more school districts announced plans to shift to online until next month.
The overall test positivity rate in the Capital Region reached 6.8 percent Saturday, according to state data released Monday, higher than the state overall 5.05 percent test positivity rate.
The Capital Region had about 30 percent of its overall ICU bed capacity still available, or 43 beds available out of 223 in the region, about matching the overall state available capacity of 32 percent.
In Schenectady County, the percent of tests returning a positive case continued to rise, reaching a seven-day average above 9 percent for the first time since April. With over 1,200 new tests reported Saturday, the county found 111 new positive cases, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
In a short conference call with reporters Sunday, Cuomo also highlighted concerns that the holiday season would exacerbate the virus, citing a surge that followed Thanksgiving.
“The overwhelming spread is coming from holiday spread, socialization spread… living room spread,” Cuomo said Sunday.
Cuomo also cited research that a new variant of the virus was spreading in the United Kingdom and called on the federal government to do more to test or prevent travelers from the country entering the United States through New York airports.
“Right now this variant is getting on a plane in the UK and flying to JFK [airport],” Cuomo said.
The weekend also brought the latest round of changed school plans as more districts announced plans to shift students to online learning for the waning days before the holiday break, which starts Thursday.
The Watervliet City School District on Sunday announced all students would shift to remote learning for the three days of school this week, planning to return to in-person instruction after the break.
“The rise in COVID-19 positive cases in Albany and surrounding counties is alarming,” district officials wrote in a message to families.
Saratoga Springs officials recently announced that Saratoga Spring High School and Greenfield Elementary students would shift to remote learning for class this week.
“Due to the number of staff members who are required to quarantine, the district will pause in-person instruction and shift to online instruction” at the two schools, district officials wrote in a message to families.
The Schenectady City School District on Friday announced its plan to shift all students to remote learning through Jan. 8, a few days following the return to school after the break, citing an increasing number of students and staff in quarantine in the district. The vast majority of students in the district, including most secondary students, have been learning remotely since the start of the year.
A handful of other districts in the region had already communicated a similar shift to remote learning over the past couple of weeks; most hope to return to in-person instruction Jan. 4 after the end of the break, but some have already planned to not resume in-person instruction until later in January.
More from The Daily Gazette: