ALBANY — New York remained in the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, with the nearly 1,400 infections confirmed by early afternoon accounting for a third of all known cases nationwide.
The greatly increased volume of tests being performed in New York accounts for some of the 45 percent jump in case count from Monday. But there’s also the rapid growth rate typical of an epidemic or pandemic, as recently infected but not-yet-diagnosed people expose multiple healthy people to the disease.
Albany County, which hit 25 confirmed cases Tuesday, and Saratoga County, with 10 cases, both believe they have reached the point of community transmission and both are taking additional steps to slow the spread. The two counties have the highest case counts in the Capital Region; Albany County is the highest in the state outside the New York City region.
Schenectady County stands at five cases, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties at one each.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called again for a stronger federal response Tuesday, saying there’s only so much one state or one region can do to stop a national crisis. He also said he is not planning to impose mass quarantines of entire cities or stay-at-home orders, as in San Francisco.
“There is not going to be any quarantine. No one is going to lock you in your home. No one is going to tell you, ‘You can’t leave the city.’ That’s not going to happen,” he said.
However, further restrictions on the operation of businesses and public places — significantly curtailed Friday and further limited Monday — may be needed to slow the rate of transmission, he said.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control said Tuesday that total confirmed cases stood at 4,226 with 75 deaths.
Across New York, the state Department of Health said the number of confirmed cases stood at 1,374 by early Tuesday afternoon, up from 950 Monday afternoon. Twelve of those patients have died and 244 have been hospitalized, which equals a hospitalization rate of nearly 19 percent. The fear is that the caseload will far exceed the number of New York hospital beds suitable for critically ill respiratory patients.
Cuomo said the situation may not peak for another 45 days, to judge by the history of the pandemic in other countries. He said he’d be consulting with the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday on ways to increase the number of hospital beds in New York to accommodate the potential surge of patients.
Some developments across the Capital Region:
- A student at Shenendehowa’s Acadia Middle School and a private-school student who rides a Shen bus both tested positive for COVID-19.
- The state Department of Labor extended its filing hours for unemployment benefits and created an alphabetical filing sequence: Those whose last name begins with letters A through F should file on Mondays; G through N on Tuesdays; and O through Z on Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays are for those who missed their designated day. Filing later in the week will not delay payments — all claims are effective on Monday of the week they are filed.
- Proctors, which saw all of its venues shuttered by the state as part of its ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, laid off most of its staff.
- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany cancelled all public masses except for weddings and funerals after congregants at two churches were potentially exposed to infected individuals.
- Union College canceled in-person classes through the end of the school year in mid-June.
- Hospitals regionwide strengthened their restrictions on visitors to a near-total ban. Perhaps the tightest limits are at St. Peter’s, Samaritan, Albany Memorial, and Sunnyview, the hospitals operated by St. Peter’s Health Partners, which now allows only one visitor per patient, and only if the patient is a child, is giving birth, or is receiving end-of-life care.
- The state suspended its debt collection activities for 30 days.
- Cuomo announced three-way agreement with the state Assembly and Senate on measures to provide job and income protection for quarantined workers and comprehensive paid sick leave.
- Open enrollment for insurance coverage through New York State of Health, which ended Feb. 7, was extended through April 15 for eligible New Yorkers.
- Supermarket chain Price Chopper/Market 32 further reduced its overnight hours to allow for better restocking and sanitization; stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., plus a special senior citizen-only period from 6 to 7 a.m.
- Some malls and shopping plazas cut their hours.
- Some bank and credit union branches closed for teller transactions or went to drive-through transactions only.