Hochul urges booster shot as COVID persists and holidays near

Gov. Kathy Hochul, wearing a necklace pendant that reads "vaxed," speaks to reporters recently.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, wearing a necklace pendant that reads "vaxed," speaks to reporters recently.

ALBANY — With thousands of new COVID-19 infections every day across the state, Gov. Kathy Hochul is encouraging New Yorkers to consider booster shots as the holiday season approaches.

The pandemic subsided greatly in New York for several months in early 2020 and again in the early summer of 2021. But the metrics started rising in July, seven months after the first New Yorkers got their vaccination, and have remained elevated since — holding well below the pandemic’s peak levels and well above its lulls.

The more virulent Delta variant of COVID and the steadily growing number of breakthrough cases —  infections in those fully vaccinated against the virus — are likely at least partially to blame for the numbers.​

When newly sworn-in Gov. Kathy Hochul issued her first COVID-19 update on Aug. 24, the seven-day positive rate stood at 3.1%, not much less than the 3.3% in her most recent update, on Monday.

In the intervening 83 days, the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated against COVID rose from 59.2% to 67.6%.

Also in that time, 3,228 deaths in New York were attributed to COVID and 20,371 New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID recovered to be discharged, according to the state Department of Health.

Medical experts had predicted early on that months after people received their initial COVID vaccine shots, their chances of infection might rise, and studies are now showing this to be the case. 

In the Capital Region, Saratoga County has one of the few sets of  detailed, publicly visible data on this, and the numbers are striking. As of Monday, there are 830 county residents with known, active COVID infections, and 50.2% of them — 417 — are fully vaccinated.

State and national health officials are now urging booster shots, if only for those at highest risk of serious illness.

A year after the 2020 holiday season, which was blamed for a severe early-winter COVID surge in New York, Hochul called on New Yorkers to consider booster shots.

“I am strongly encouraging all New Yorkers who live or work in a high-risk setting to get the booster,” she said in a prepared statement. “I received the booster, and believe no one who feels they are at risk should be turned away from getting a COVID-19 booster shot. If you feel at risk, please get the booster.”

COVID vaccine is available at many private-sector healthcare providers and at many county- and state-run facilities, as well as at special popup events. Information on sites and hours is available online.

Some other statistics provided Monday by the state Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Roughly 195 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, 57.8% of the population; 30.1 million Americans have received a booster shot.
  • New York’s seven-day positive test rate stood at 3.3% on Sunday. The downstate regions hit hardest early on in the pandemic now have the lowest positive rates — New York City 1.4%, Mid-Hudson 2.6%, Long Island 3.3%. The other seven regions range from 4.6% to 8.4%.
  • At the county level, some of the highest seven-day positive test rates in the state are in counties on the borders of the Capital Region: Washington 11.4%, Montgomery, 11.2%, Fulton 10.7%.
  • Other counties’ test rates stand at: Albany 4.6%, Rensselaer 5.0%, Saratoga 5.5%, Schenectady 4.4% and Schoharie 3.7%.
  • The state’s Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany analyzes roughly 100 samples a day to determine what variant of COVID is present. For the most recent period, Oct. 24 to Nov. 6, 100% of samples were the fast-spreading Delta variant, up from 99.7% in the previous period. 
  • On Saturday, 1,915 people were hospitalized with COVID across New York, including 178 in the Capital Region, the most in more than eight months. In the Mohawk Valley, 101 were hospitalized.
  • In Capital Region hospitals, 97% of employees are fully vaccinated, the most among the state’s 10 regions; only 90% of Mohawk Valley hospital employees are fully vaccinated, lowest among the regions.
  • Twenty new deaths Sunday pushed the COVID death toll to 58,623 statewide. Among the latest were a man and woman in their 90s in Schenectady County.

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