Saratoga, Fulton counties see progress fighting COVID, hope for more vaccine

SARATOGA COUNTYDr. Daniel Kuhles, commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services, speaks at a news conference Wednesday.


Dr. Daniel Kuhles, commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services, speaks at a news conference Wednesday.

BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County on Wednesday reported progress against COVID-19 but warned progress mustn’t lead to complacency: Protective measures such as masking and distancing continue to be necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

At a news conference, county officials said 15.8% of county residents had received their first dose of vaccine and 8.5% have also received their second dose. Both figures are above the statewide average.

Another positive sign: The number of new infections has dropped sharply. The positive test rate declined from a seven-day average as high as 11% in early January to 2.7% on Tuesday.

But the positive test rate in most nearby counties is significantly slower, and the rate for the Capital Region as a whole is just 2.0%.

Meanwhile, four more Saratoga County residents have died of COVID in the last week, bringing the death toll to 145.

Dr. Daniel Kuhles, commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services, said there are indications that the supply of vaccine will be increasing substantially, fairly soon. The county is ready for mass vaccination efforts and is preparing to work with its partners on the campaign.

“While the continued progress that is being made in the county is very encouraging,” he said at the news conference, “it is imperative that we do not let our guard down and leave our communities, our hospitals and our residents vulnerable to another increase in infection.”

Other counties have voiced their own frustration at the limited supply of vaccine, which has kept them from mounting the mass vaccination campaigns they’ve planned and rehearsed for years.

Saratoga County’s neighbor to the west, Fulton County, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in northeastern New York, with only 11.1% of the population having received at least one dose.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead issued a statement Wednesday noting that the county is getting just 100 to 200 doses a week from the state.

“As resident frustration grows over the slow vaccine roll-out in New York State, distribution remains dictated by state officials,” he wrote. “Distribution remains slow and each weekly shipment to county Public Health Departments is earmarked for certain resident groups by the New York State Department of Health.”

He added: “County government officials are adamant that state officials should be placing more emphasis on getting vaccine to senior citizens.”

Wednesday’s statistical update:

  • The seven-day positive test rate Tuesday was 3.4% statewide, 2.0% in the Capital Region and 1.9% in the Mohawk Valley. At the county level, the seven-day positive rate was Albany 1.9%, Fulton 5.4%, Montgomery 4.9%, Rensselaer 1.5%, Saratoga 2.7%, Schenectady 2.2% and Schoharie 2.9%. Fulton County’s rate is much-improved in recent days but still is fifth-highest among the state’s 62 counties.
  • Statewide on Tuesday, 5,876 COVID-positive people were hospitalized; the patient census was 167 in the Capital Region and 105 in the Mohawk Valley.
  • The state’s official COVID death toll increased by 99 to reach 38,135. The recent deaths included two residents each of Albany and Montgomery counties and one each of Greene and Washington counties.

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