ALBANY — The Capital Region continued its slow progress on COVID-19 Wednesday, with slightly more people hospitalized with the virus than a day before and a slightly smaller percentage testing positive.
The seven-day rolling positive test average statewide was 3.2% Wednesday, up from 3.1% the day before.
The numbers are only incrementally better or worse from day to day but strikingly better from month to month so far this year. The state peaked at a sustained 7.9% positive test rate in early January.
And the one demographic that appears to be faring particularly well is the one that fared worst throughout 2020: Nursing home residents.
COVID has killed more than 128,000 of these vulnerable senior citizens nationwide and more than 13,000 in New York state.
Factoring in other categories of eldercare facilities, more than a third of COVID deaths have been connected to these congregate facilities in many locations. Montgomery County in the Mohawk Valley has been particularly hard-hit: 62% of county residents who’ve died of COVID lived in facilities for the elderly.
But two months after nursing homes residents and employees began to be vaccinated, federal data indicate a striking decline in deaths and infections in those facilities nationwide. Nationwide, 33,517 nursing home residents were confirmed infected and 5,781 died in the week ending Dec. 13; the numbers dropped to 3,305 infected and 1,464 dead in the week ending Feb. 14. Over the same period, the one-week total of employees newly infected dropped from 28,662 to 4,003 and the number of employee deaths dropped from 43 to 25.
The trend has been seen in New York, as well.
State Department of Health spokesman Gary Holmes said Wednesday:
“The decrease in COVID positive cases among nursing home residents nationally is a trend we are also experiencing here in New York state. Positive cases have dropped more than 67% since [Jan. 15], during a timeframe where 70% of residents have been fully vaccinated, as the department continues to prioritize comprehensive infection control surveys, and as the behavior of New Yorkers is contributing to declining infections rates that helps keep the virus out of these facilities.”
Statewide statistics show 71% of New York nursing home residents and 50% of employees have been vaccinated as of Wednesday. This rises to 81% and 58% in the Capital Region, some of the best percentages among New York’s 10 regions.
For individual counties in and near the Capital Region, the percentages of nursing home residents and employees vaccinated are:
- Albany 83% 58%
- Fulton 70% 47%
- Montgomery 73% 49%
- Rensselaer 76% 53%
- Saratoga 91% 54%
- Schenectady 83% 68%
By state records, the death toll among residents of New York eldercare facilities is 15,424 as of Tuesday — 13,621 in nursing homes, 824 in assisted living facilities and 979 in other adult-care facilities.
At the county level, these are the totals of nursing home, assisted-living and adult-care resident fatalities, plus the total of known COVID deaths for all county residents:
- Albany 127/10/4, 333
- Fulton 48/0/0, 84
- Montgomery 66/0/2, 107
- Rensselaer 76/0/1, 132
- Saratoga 42/23/2, 145
- Schenectady 29/22/5, 178
- Schoharie 0/0/1 13