Cuomo urges counties, schools, hospitals to take steps to slow COVID

Gov. Andrew Cuomo provides an update on COVID-19 on Monday in New York City.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo provides an update on COVID-19 on Monday in New York City.

NEW YORK — With COVID-19 indicators worsening in much of the state and nation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged others to do the things he was able to do himself by executive order earlier in the pandemic.

On Monday, he repeated his call for businesses to bar entry by unvaccinated people, local governments to mandate face coverings when infection rates climb, hospitals to mandate vaccination for hospital workers who interact with the public and, potentially, schools and nursing homes to mandate vaccination for teachers and employees.

“Everything should be on the table and we should start talking about it now because if these numbers rise and start to rise quickly, it can’t be that we’re not ready to move,” Cuomo said Monday from New York City.

About 63% of New York state’s population is at least partially vaccinated and about 57% fully vaccinated. That means more than a third of New Yorkers have no vaccine protection at all, whether by choice or circumstance.

Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control is now advising that the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads as easily as chicken pox and can infect fully vaccinated people, though it is less likely to make them severely ill. Fully vaccinated people also can spread the disease, the CDC warned.

“The problem with that is you then have 100% of the people spreading the Delta variant,” Cuomo said.

Delta is blamed for at least some of the sharp upswing in the number of infections nationwide in recent weeks.

New York state went from 506 positive tests and 349 people hospitalized with COVID on July 1 to 2,143 positives and 788 hospitalized on Aug. 1

The numbers are still a fraction of crisis levels: 18,800 were hospitalized in New York on a single day in April 2020 and 9,200 in January 2021. More than 18,000 positives were recorded in a single day in January.

But the metrics headed in the wrong direction, Cuomo said, and he pushed cities and counties to take action.

“Right now this is all up to local governments. If they don’t act, then we’ll be where we were last year where it becomes a statewide emergency and the state is going to have to act,” he said.

Some local COVID statistics:

  • The CDC lists Albany, Columbia, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties as having “substantial” risk of disease transmission based on number of new infections and positive test rate, and therefore recommends (but does not mandate) indoor masking as a precaution.
  • The Capital Region has jumped from five COVID-positive hospital inpatients to 43 in the last month.
  • The Capital Region has the highest seven-day average positive COVID test rate among the state’s 10 regions: 3.6%.
  • Three neighboring counties have the three highest seven-day rates in the state: Saratoga (4.5%), Montgomery (4.4%) and Schenectady (4.3%).
  • The numbers involved are still relatively small: Schenectady County recorded 192 positives among its 155,000 residents in the month of July, Saratoga County 395 out of 230,000, Montgomery County 50 out of 49,000.

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