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Albany County Officials Provide Update On COVID-19

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Composite Image by Dave Lucas
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COVID-19's sweep through the Capital Region is being closely watched by government and health officials.

On Friday, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen said there are now 70 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, with 18 new cases since Thursday. 2,283 people are under mandatory quarantine and 498 under precautionary quarantine. McCoy says that in just over a week, the number of positive cases has grown from the first two announced on March 12.     "We did a lot of testing, they ramped it up. Albany Med and St. Peters stepped up to the plate and so did the governor, wants to get more people tested, and that's why we're seeing a higher number than anywhere else."

However, Albany Med and St. Peter's Health Partners are suspending community testing. St. Peter's Health Partners testing is restricted to symptomatic health care providers at its Albany Memorial Campus on Northern Blvd.  Drive-up testing will continue until 9 p.m. Friday at the Albany Med testing site, the tent adjacent to the Emergency Department. Whalen finds that news unsettling.     "Our inability to diagnose more cases does not mean that there are not more cases.  The likelihood is, as we continue to investigate these cases, you're seeing the majority of them are community acquired. So that tells us that this is in the community, and people need to act accordingly.  So all guidance measures, legislation that's been put in place around social distancing, should be taken very seriously."

Whalen says although walk-in testing is ending, screenings will still take place.    "So people that come into a hospital that are the sickest, that require hospital admission, will be tested.  They are also considering testing for health care worker context, because as this unfolds, it's going to be very essential for us to maintain the workforce, for the healthcare workers ,and for them to be sure that they're using the appropriate PPE, if in fact, they have been identified as either a case or a contact."

Albany County's Mental Health Support Line is available at (518) 269-6634 from 8am to 5pm, seven days a week.

PPE means personal protective equipment. McCoy also announced that a new Mental Health Support Line is now operational for those dealing with stress and anxiety while remaining in their homes. 

  • Anyone experiencing a psychiatric emergency should still call the Albany County Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500. For all COVID-19 questions and concerns, residents are encouraged to use United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline as well as the State Department of Health’s hot line at 888-364-3065.

Columbia County officials have confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus there. County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb spoke with WAMC Friday afternoon.    "We did expect this to happen through Albany Medical Center through the hospital in their urgent care centers. 98 people have been tested. So as the governor says the more you test, the more you're going to find. I will tell you the first case was a woman in her 60s in the southern part of the county and the second case is a woman in her 30s in the northern part of county."
Mabb says both women are quarantined at home and exhibiting symptoms. The county Department of Health is working to retrace their actions prior to quarantine. Mabb says the cases are unrelated and neither woman traveled abroad in recent weeks.

 

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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