The Capital Region’s COVID-19 test positivity rate this weekend dropped below 2 percent, and the statewide average dropped below 3 percent, for the first time since before Thanksgiving.
But the positive trendline of lessening infection rates comes as the country — and the region — approach grim milestones in a pandemic that has devastated so many lives.
The latest infection data from the state shows a positive trend is continuing, with the region’s seven-day rolling test positivity average reaching 1.9 percent as of Saturday, the lowest the rate has been since Nov. 15, ahead of a surge during the holidays and cold weather season. The state’s overall seven-day positivity rate dropped below 3 percent for the first time since Nov. 23, according to data updated Sunday.
The test positivity rates still remain higher in Fulton and Montgomery counties, which are counted as part of the Mohawk Valley region in the state data. The seven-day average in Montgomery County sat at 5.4 percent Saturday, effectively level over the past week; the seven-day average in Fulton County was 6.3 percent, among the highest in the state.
State officials on Sunday also said the first case of a new South African variant of the virus had been identified in a Nassau County resident. Health officials have warned that new, more infectious variants of the virus pose a potential threat to declining infection rates.
Still less than a year since the first confirmed COVID-19 death in New York state, and just over a year since the first deaths in the country, and the national death toll is nearing 500,000.
Across seven Capital Region counties — Schenectady, Albany, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schoharie — nearly 1,000 residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic emerged. In the past year, 177 Schenectady County residents have died after contracting COVID-19, according to the state data. In Saratoga County, 143 residents have died; 102 Montgomery County residents and 80 Fulton County residents have also died.
Albany County experienced the highest death toll in the region: 325 county residents died after contracting the virus, though 515 people are listed as dying in the county, likely at regional hospitals in Albany.