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Albany County Executive: Twenty-somethings may be driving COVID-19 infection rate

Albany County Executive: Twenty-somethings may be driving COVID-19 infection rate

County reiterates warning to a restless public
Albany County Executive: Twenty-somethings may be driving COVID-19 infection rate
Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy in 2019
Photographer: File photo

ALBANY — Albany County Executive Dan McCoy went to Thompson's Lake State Park over the weekend and didn’t like what he saw. 

Boaters, lots of them.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of people hanging out like there was nothing going on,” McCoy said.

Most appeared to be in their 20s, he said. 

As testing accelerates, results in Albany County reveal twenty-somethings are testing positive more than every other age group except for those in their 50s, said county officials, who underscored the seriousness of asymptomatic young people spreading the virus to older people who are more vulnerable to the virus. 

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“These younger people infected with COVID-19 are likely causing infections in older individuals, and this is where we see the disproportionate burden of death and disease,” said county Public Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen.

The most recent data reveals the 50 to 59 age group leads with 263 positive cases in Albany County.

Twenty-somethings follow close behind with 254.

But despite the rising numbers, and the death of a man in his 20s last week, that demographic is not being hospitalized, which reinforces the need for people to acknowledge they may be spreading the virus unwittingly.

“Probably most of you don’t even know you have it -- that’s the problem,” McCoy said. “You’re the ones who are going to continue to spread it more than anyone else.” 

Of 599 positive cases in Schenectady County as of Monday, twenty-somethings constituted 102 confirmed cases, which is just below the 104 positive cases of those in their 50s.

But the county includes everyone over 60 in the same category, and 27 of total positive cases are people in that age group.

Saratoga County doesn’t separate people in their 20s and 30s. Of their 429 confirmed cases, 50 of them are in that demographic.

The Capital Region isn’t among those cleared for reopening, a phased-in approach that allows regions to ramp up portions of the economy beginning with manufacturing, construction and curbside or indoor retail pickup. 

But Whalen expected an uptick in positive cases once the Capital Region does meet the metrics. 

“I have no doubt that opening up will result in an increase in cases,” Whalen said. 

McCoy, a member of the regional “control room” that is guiding the process, expected the region to meet the criteria as early as Tuesday after a batch of new tracers completed a four-hour training course on Monday, bringing numbers past 387 for the 1.1 million-person region.

“They will be getting trained and I hope we can announce we will reopen tomorrow," McCoy said on Monday morning.

But true numbers won’t be known for at least two weeks, the length of the virus’ incubation period, while deaths likely won’t begin to manifest for another four to five weeks.

“This is a lot for people to get their heads around, but it’s a reason for people to really implement caution when moving forward,” Whalen said.

McCoy urged everyone to continue to wear masks where social distancing isn’t possible. 

The warning comes as the medical community is beginning to better distinguish patterns of the virus and its clinical manifestations in patients, including an inflammatory syndrome affecting children and sudden strokes among young people, according to a University of Toronto radiologist who co-authored a paper awaiting peer review.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced expanded diagnostic testing criteria designed to include anyone who would return to the workforce in the first phase. 

New Yorkers eligible for testing include:

  • Anyone with COVID symptoms.
  • Any individual who has had contact with a person known to be positive.
  • Anyone subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine.
  • Any individual employed as a health care worker, nursing home worker or first responder or essential employee who directly interacts with the public while working.
  • Anyone who would return to the workplace in phase one of the state's reopening plan.

“There's no reason why people shouldn't be getting testing,” said Cuomo, who took a test on national television on Sunday which ultimately yielded negative. “We actually have now more testing capacity than we are using at many of our sites.” 

The eight-county Capital Region contains roughly 1.1 million people and requires 387 contact tracers to open.

McCoy expects the number to rise to between 400 and 500 once new tracers complete a four-hour training course on Monday.

“They will be getting trained, and I hope we can announce we will reopen tomorrow," McCoy said on Monday.

For a list of testing locations, visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

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