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COVID-19 Capital Region Tuesday Update

 Hospital leaders gathered at Albany Med practice social distancing.
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
Hospital leaders gathered at Albany Med practice social distancing.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in the Capital Region, and area hospitals are scrambling to keep up.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy reported another increase in coronavirus cases on Tuesday.     "So as of today, we're up to 136 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County, with 576 people under mandatory quarantine, 652 individuals under precaution quarantine, and as of right now we have nine people that are hospitalized, putting our hospitalization rate at roughly about 5.1%, which is very low considering that 2,700 people got tested and the positive rate is under 5%."
McCoy raised concern about the number of people out and about during this supposed time of staying home.     "I couldn't even get out on Central Avenue from a side street, because there's so much traffic. There's people on the streets, there's people driving all over. People! World's changed!  And the only way we're going to stop this spread is by staying home and using the new steps that we put out through the CDC, through the health department, through the governor's office and six feet of separation."
McCoy says he has taken his concerns up the hill to the capitol.    "And we brought it up to the governor's office this morning. And I don't know what the next steps gonna be and we'll find out but something has to change because people aren't waking up."
Health care professionals gathered at Albany Medical Center Tuesday afternoon to give an update on how hospitals are dealing with the virus after finding that just 14% of all the people who test positive require admission to the hospital. They say the rest can be treated as outpatinets.
Dr. Dennis McKenna is the incoming president and CEO at Albany Medical Center:    "All of us two weeks ago, we were aggressively testing in the outpatient setting. And that was at the direction of public health officials. And that was primarily what was happening throughout the state. Now that we have the data that I shared with you just a minute ago, we've all decided to follow guidance that has been set out that says you should no longer be testing, promoting, advertising outpatient testing, but instead, you should shift to using those tests for symptomatic healthcare workers, which also includes our first responders and inpatients. And the primary reason why we're making that shift is, testing people in the outpatient setting who are tested and who are positive and who are discharged or never have to be admitted to the hospital. It does not change their management."
All regional hospitals say they have preparations and plans in place to handle significant increases in patients.  Dr. Steven Hanks, chief clinical officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners, says elective and non-emergent surgeries and procedures are being postponed.    "Our plan includes an ability to go up from our maximum current capability under normal circumstances of 702 acute care beds across our entire system, to nearly double that by another 663 beds using extant facilities. So this means without having to go into unusual facilities like vacant hotels and things of that nature. In addition, we're going to be able to nearly triple our or more than triple our ICU beds, from a baseline of 48 to just over 150. I believe that we can reassure the public here in Albany, that our plan and the plans of Albany Medical Center and all the other regional hospitals, will be able to meet the needs of this community. In the event we have worst case scenario surge."
Both Albany Med and St. Peter’s Health Partners have begun sharing daily updates online.

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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