Capital Region

Positive COVID test rates dip in Capital Region but remain above pre-Christmas levels

COVID testing at SUNY Schenectady in Schenectady, October 1, 2020. 

COVID testing at SUNY Schenectady in Schenectady, October 1, 2020. 

CAPITAL REGION — COVID-positive test rates dropped down Monday from an after-Christmas spike but remained higher in many counties than before the holiday.

Positive test rates in and near the Capital Region ranged as high as 14.5 percent (Schenectady County) on Monday, the state Department of Health said Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average, a better metric of the pandemic’s progress, was as high as 11.5% (Schoharie County) across the region.

The Monday hospital census of COVID patients hit 399 in the Capital Region, nearly double the region’s peak during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, and reached 263 in the Mohawk Valley, more than quadruple its springtime peak.

The state reported 124 new COVID deaths Tuesday, at least nine of them in the Capital Region: two each in Albany and Schenectady counties, one in Washington County and four in Rensselaer County, the most ever in a single day there.

The official death toll maintained by the state stood at 29,756 on Tuesday morning, or 1 in 653 New Yorkers, and the actual number who died because of the virus is believed to be higher.

As the tenth month of the pandemic in New York state ends, 1 in 20 New Yorkers has now been confirmed infected with COVID-19.

Locally, the numbers are:

  • 1 in 27, Albany County
  • 1 in 28, Schenectady County
  • 1 in 39, Montgomery County
  • 1 in 40, Rensselaer County
  • 1 in 43, Fulton County
  • 1 in 47, Saratoga County
  • 1 in 59, Schoharie County

These compare with 1 in 12 in Rockland County, which has the most infections per capita of any county in the state, and 1 in 19 in Queens, which has the largest number of known infections.


Most public health officials and many elected officials have repeatedly urged Americans to stay home and avoid gatherings during the holiday season, so as to not exacerbate the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airport data suggest that Capital Region residents did this to a considerable degree for the Christmas holiday — or at least that they didn’t go by plane if they did travel.

From Dec. 19 through Dec. 27 (the Saturday before Christmas and the Sunday after Christmas) 58.5% fewer travelers passed through airport security checkpoints nationwide than in the same nine day period in 2019, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Albany International Airport saw a 70.6% drop on those days in 2020 compared with 2019.

The biggest single drop was 84.5% on Christmas Day itself, from 4,975 in 2019 to just 771 this year.

The decline nationally was also quite significant on Dec. 25: 76.1% year over year.


Warren County on Tuesday reported more fallout from a big sleepover/underage drinking party attended by at least 50 people Dec. 18 in the Saratoga County town of Wilton.

A dozen Warren County residents who attended the party are now documented to have been infected there, the county said in its daily update. This contributed to a total of 42 new confirmed infections, a new one-day record for Warren County.

Contact tracing has proved difficult, the county has said, and it asked people who attended that party — or any similar event — to self-quarantine while watching for symptoms, and if necessary to contact the Health Department if they know of someone who might be at risk.

Until Monday, Saratoga County gave no public indication it was aware of the potential super-spreader event in Wilton. Later Monday, a spokesman said Saratoga County could not comment because law enforcement personnel are investigating.

On Tuesday, the spokesman said Warren County officials never contacted their counterparts in Saratoga County to notify them of their concerns, or to corroborate the information they were receiving.

Several Saratoga County departments are now investigating, he added, but so far no county resident infected with COVID has disclosed being at a party in Wilton.


The following seven-day average positive COVID test rates were reported Tuesday:

  • Albany County 9.1%
  • Fulton County 6.5%
  • Montgomery County 10.9%
  • Rensselaer County 8.7%
  • Saratoga County 9.0%
  • Schenectady County 10.8%
  • Schoharie County 11.5%
  • Capital Region 8.6%
  • Mohawk Valley 9.1%
  • New York state 6.1%


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