ALBANY — Most metrics of the COVID crisis continued to improve in the Capital Region this week, with declining positive test rates and fewer people hospitalized.
However, the statewide death toll continues to be in the mid-100s each day, as some people infected during what is now being called the holiday surge succumb to the virus.
Saratoga County, for example, saw its list of residents dead from COVID rise from 36 on Jan. 7 to 110 on Jan. 27. Some of those were previous deaths belatedly reported to the county, but many were new deaths of people infected in the preceding weeks, a county spokesman said.
The state death toll grew by 162 Wednesday to 34,742.
“The fact of the matter is, we’ve had by far the most COVID-related deaths this month than any other since the pandemic started,” Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy said Thursday. “But the data is showing signs of our percent positive rates improving and hospital numbers stabilizing after the holiday surge.”
The state reported 457 people hospitalized with COVID in the Capital Region on Wednesday.
“The high-water mark was 553, so it’s clearly going in the right direction,” said Dr. Dennis McKenna, CEO of Albany Medical Center, the region’s largest hospital.
He noted that 45 of the 130 COVID-positive inpatients at Albany Med are no longer sick and are non-contagious but can’t be discharged because they still show traces of COVID in their systems. All traces must be gone before a nursing home can take a resident back.
In other COVID-related developments Thursday:
- Statewide, a quarter-million people were tested for COVID infections; the one-day positive rate was 5.3%, compared with a positive rate of as much as 8.7% in late December.
- On the more meaningful seven-day positive test average, New York stood at 5.5%, the Capital Region 6.0% and the Mohawk Valley 5.7%; at the county level, it was Albany 6.9%, Fulton 9.1%, Montgomery 8.2%, Rensselaer 5.7%, Saratoga 6.0%, Schenectady 4.9% and Schoharie 7.9%.
- Albany Law School has shifted to remote instruction through Feb. 1 because of some poor assumptions by a group of students who had previously tested negative and gathered unmasked in an enclosed space for a lengthy study session. One subsequently tested positive on Monday.
- State Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow billiard halls statewide to reopen in the wake of a court ruling that let 16 specific businesses open.
- U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced $4.9 million would be coming to Albany International Airport as part of a federal stimulus package approved in December.