Albany County

Ex-department store is newest COVID vaccine site

MIKE WREN/NYS DEPT. OF HEALTHThe new state-run mass-vaccination site is shown in the former Lord & Taylor space at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland on Friday, April, 16, 2021.

MIKE WREN/NYS DEPT. OF HEALTH
The new state-run mass-vaccination site is shown in the former Lord & Taylor space at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland on Friday, April, 16, 2021.

GUILDERLAND — A former upscale department store at Crossgates mall was converted Thursday night and Friday morning into a mass point of distribution for the COVID vaccine.

The operation completed all appointments at its former site on the University at Albany campus Thursday, packed up, moved the 1.5 miles and was reassembled in time for the first scheduled injections Friday morning.

The relocation to the indoor setting offers shelter from the elements, and was just in time for a wet snow shower Friday morning.

The move also triples the capacity — the expansive former Lord & Taylor space will be able to administer up to 6,000 shots a day, compared with a maximum of about 2,000 at UAlbany, where more than 150,000 doses have been delivered since January.

The long-running drive-through COVID test site on the UAlbany campus will continue in operation there.

These and many, many other points of distribution statewide have administered nearly 13 million doses of vaccine over the last four months, with 40.2% of all New Yorkers having received at least one shot as of late Friday morning.

Albany County has the fourth-highest rate in the state at 47.9% and neighboring Schenectady County is fifth at 47.8%.

Meanwhile, the state’s positive test rate continues to improve after a period of fluctuation. The seven-day rolling average dropped to 3.0% on Thursday, the lowest since Nov. 26.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, localized COVID infections vary significantly from one county or region to the next.

While the statewide positive test rate was dropping from 3.6% to 3.0% in recent weeks, the Capital Region rate rose from 1.7% to 2.4% and the Mohawk Valley from 1.4% to 2.0%.

None of these rates begin to approach numbers in New York during the first or second surges of the pandemic — the Mohawk Valley and Capital Region test rates both topped 10% positive in early January — but they come as an increasing number of New Yorkers become fully vaccinated against the virus.

New, more easily transmissible strains of COVID are cited as one potential cause of the localized increases.

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