Montgomery, Schoharie, Schenectady counties’ COVID test rates among state’s highest

A sign at the Amsterdam Walgreens advertises free walk-in COVID vaccinations on Thursday.
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A sign at the Amsterdam Walgreens advertises free walk-in COVID vaccinations on Thursday.

ALBANY — New mask and vaccination mandates were announced Friday in the Capital Region as local COVID-19 metrics continued to worsen:

  • Glens Falls Hospital is mandating that all employees and contractors be vaccinated or be approved for an exemption by Oct. 1; those who are not will be fired. Currently about 86% are vaccinated.
  • The Daughters of Sarah Community for Seniors in Albany said Friday it may terminate any employee at its nursing and rehab facility and at its Massry Residence who is not vaccinated by Oct. 1; currently 96% and 100% of residents and about 84% of staff at the two facilities are vaccinated.
  • Albany County said any employee, vendor or visitor entering a county building must wear a face mask starting Monday, regardless of vaccination status, due to the significant recent increase in local  COVID infections.
  • Schenectady County announced the same decision for its facilities, also effective Monday, and said masks are not a step back but a recognition of the dangers of COVID.

Albany Medical Center and St. Peter’s Health Partners previously had mandated employee vaccination; a variety of organizations previously have reinstituted an indoor mask rule in the absence of any government order requiring one.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his daily COVID update Friday said New Yorkers appear to be taking notice of the rising number of new infections. The number of vaccine doses administered each day in New York, which had shrunk dramatically in late spring and early summer, is up 40% from three weeks ago, he said.

From July 29 to Aug. 5, 286,174 doses were administered statewide, bringing the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated to 57.5% as of Friday morning.

However, many indicators of the pandemic’s strength haven’t turned in a positive direction yet:

  • The Capital Region continues to have the highest positive test rate among the state’s 10 regions, 3.9% for the seven days ended Thursday; it was 0.3% for the first week of July.
  • Four of the five highest positive rates among New York’s 62 counties are in a single contiguous cluster: Montgomery (5.5%), Schoharie (5.4%), Schenectady (4.7%) and Albany (4.5%). Sparsely populated Hamilton County’s seven-day average is 5.4%.
  • The positive test rates are in some cases moving independently of vaccination rates: Schenectady and Hamilton counties have among the highest adult vaccination rates in the state (83.1% and 81.7%, respectively) while Montgomery and Schoharie counties are much lower (70.2% and 58.3%).
  • Hospitals in the eight-county Capital Region have climbed from seven to 58 COVID-positive inpatients between July 5 and Aug. 5.
  • The number of New Yorkers hospitalized has increased daily for more than a month and on Thursday surpassed 1,000 for the first time since June 1.
  • Statewide, 3,700 new infections were confirmed on Thursday, compared with 300 to 500 per day in late June.

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