ALBANY — With 75% of New York nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID, the pandemic is proving much less lethal in nursing homes in recent weeks.
So far in March, just 8.8% of New York COVID victims have been nursing home residents, compared with 35% in the preceding 12 months.
Put another way, nursing home residents statewide died at a rate of 261 a week in the first year of the pandemic and 40 a week so far in the second year.
This population was given top priority for the scarce vaccine because of its high vulnerability to COVID and the ease with which the disease spreads in group living facilities.
The nursing home death toll began to taper off earlier this winter, as a federal program to vaccinate facility residents and staff was supplemented by state efforts.
As of Wednesday, 86% of nursing home residents and 61% of employees in the Capital Region have been vaccinated, compared with just 15.3% of the general population fully vaccinated in the eight-county region.
So far in March, there have been four nursing home deaths in the Capital Region: one at The Pines at Catskill and three at Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs. Wesley was COVID-free for most of 2020 but then suffered an outbreak that has since become the deadliest in the Capital Region — 38 residents had died of the disease as of Tuesday, an outsized percentage of the total 470 nursing home deaths in the region.
New York on Monday began Week 15 of its vaccination program, which is now running at better than 100,000 doses a day. Late Tuesday or early Wednesday, the 8 millionth dose was injected into an arm in New York. As of Wednesday morning, 26.9% of the state population was at least partly vaccinated.
In other COVID news Wednesday:
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it will provide grants of up to $9,000 to survivors of COVID victims to offset funeral costs. Applicants must provide a death certificate indicating COVID-19 or its symptoms as the cause or likely cause of death and submit proof of expenses. They may not seek assistance for costs already reimbursed by benefits such as funeral insurance or other grants. More details will be announced.
- The state and Cornell University launched Citizen Public Health Training Course, a free online training program designed to help New Yorkers learn about public health, prevention and preparedness. Those who complete the 16-hour program will be designated “NYS Citizen Public Health Leaders” and can volunteer to support public health operations.
- The seven-day average positive COVID test rate stood at 3.3% statewide, 2.1% in the Capital Region and 1.8% in the Mohawk Valley. At the county level, the rate is Albany 2.0%, Fulton 3.6%, Montgomery 3.9%, Rensselaer 1.4%, Saratoga 2.8%, Schenectady 2.1% and Schoharie 2.7%.
- The official state COVID-19 death toll hit 40,096 with 71 new fatalities, including one in Montgomery County.
- Statewide, 4,641 people were hospitalized with COVID, including 110 in the Capital Region and 53 in the Mohawk Valley. The bulk of hospitalizations, and deaths, continue to be in New York City and its closest suburbs.