CAPITAL REGION -- While the eight counties that make up the Capital Region are seeing small upticks in the number of COVID-19 cases each day as more of the economy reopens, authorities continue to emphasize the need for the public to wear masks and take other precautions.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday added Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to the states subject to a travel advisory due to rising COVID rates, while removing Delaware from the list. That brings the total number of states from which visitors have to quaratine for 14 days to 22.
"It's clear based on contact tracing that many of the new cases in New York are a result of lack of compliance during the July 4 weekend and illustrate how quickly the virus spreads," Cuomo said.
Of 912 new cases confirmed by lab testing statewide, the governor's office reported the following for local counties: Albany, 22 new cases; Schenectady, 15 new cases; Montgomery and Rensselaer, eight; Saratoga, six; Fulton, one; and Schoharie, zero. There were no additional deaths in the region on Monday.
Schenectady County has now had 883 confirmed cases and 40 deaths since the pandemic reached the area in March, second in the region only to Albany County's 2,247 confirmed cases, with 121 deaths.
The regional average of positive cases out of all those tested also showed worrisome signs, with the Capital Region average at 1.7 percent on Monday, compared to 0.9 percent on Sunday and 2 percent on Saturday. Schenectady County had a 3 percent positive rate on Monday, according to the state.
The Mohawk Valley, which includes Montgomery, Fulton and Schoharie counties, saw its percentage rise to 1.6 percent, from 0.8 percent on both Saturday and Sunday. Statewide, the average was 1.5 percent.
In a briefing on Monday, Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said the five-day average for new daily positive cases has ticked up to 10.4 percent, up from 8.8 percent on Sunday. There were 38 active cases on Tuesday; McCoy's office said only two new cases were confirmed on Monday -- the spike reported by the state was from over the weekend.
"We know that the difficult decisions we’ve made over the last four months have allowed us to flatten the curve, stop the spread of the coronavirus and ultimately save lives," McCoy said. "Unfortunately, we’re seeing our numbers tick up, and the Capital Region had the highest percent positive rate of any region in the state at 2 percent over the weekend."
Montgomery County also saw its cases spike over the last week, with 22 new cases for the week, bringing the county to 141 total cases since March. Two patients are hospitalized, according to county officials. The county's rate of positive tests on Monday was 3.5 percent, with eight positives among 230 test results.
Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko said the county is doing contact tracing for three events, for some travelers, and for medical professionals who work outside the county. "Those folks traveling into Montgomery County from out of state are on the rise and continue to be a struggle to track and trace," she said on Tuesday.
"Please know our role is not to make life difficult for residents," Boerenko said in an email. "It is to assist in the decrease of a virus that spreads quickly, and is ever-changing."
On Tuesday, the state began enforcement of a new directive that requires air travellers coming from other states to fill out a state Department of Health form that will allow for contact tracing if necessary. Failure to fill out the form carries a possible $2,000 fine.
“Even after everything we went through, they allow the other states to open recklessly and you now have the virus out of control in other states,” Cuomo said in announcing the directive.
In Saratoga County, the town of Clifton Park announced that it will hold a free face mask distribution from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday at the Clifton Park Senior Community Center parking lot. It is the town's fifth mask distribution since the pandemic started.