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Albany County COVID-19 Update 4/8/20

Albany County Officials gathered in the Cahill Room at the County Office Building.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany County Officials gathered in the Cahill Room at the County Office Building.

As of Wednesday, Albany County has 330 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 441 people under mandatory quarantine and 37 hospitalized.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says since Tuesday, there was an additional death related to the coronavirus – a woman in her 70’s with underlying medical conditions – putting the death toll for the county at nine.
"I keep trying to ask people to stay home, isolate in place, don't go out. We shouldn't have to  remind you every day to stay home, cough in your arm, wash your hands."
McCoy's office says anyone who went to Burger King at 663 Loudon Road in Latham from March 26th to April 2nd may have been exposed to the virus and should self-quarantine for two weeks from the date of possible exposure. That counts the drive-through.
If you have symptoms, call the Albany County Department of Health at 518-447-4580.  It's the second recent incidence of coronavirus linked to fast-food takeout. McCoy empahasized he wants everyone to stay home.
"Isolating is working. So please continue to do that. And also remember, seniors that have to go out to the grocery store, we're trying to put mechanisms in place to get groceries delivered. But most importantly, people that need to see their pharmacist. Most pharmacists are delivering, they're dropping off at your doorstep. So keep that in consideration, that you don't have to go out."
Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen acknowledges that racial disparity has been making headlines in conjunction with the COVID-19 impact.
 "I know that there's been a tremendous amount in the press and a significant real concern about how COVID could be disproportionately affecting African American populations. We're very interested in getting that data. Unfortunately, the data collection is a little bit difficult because some databases look at ethnicity and some look at race, and some it's not measured. So when we go into that data now we get an incomplete picture. So what we're trying to do, and I know that there are some concerns at this, similar concerns at the state level, we're making sure going forward that we get data in a way that we can easily translate to the public to the degree of problems within different communities."
Meantime, Albany County Airport Authority CEO Phil Calderone says the number of passengers going through TSA gates at Albany International has fallen nearly 95 percent. He says planes are still flying, and coronavirus has yet to show up at the airport.
"I'm not aware of any of our workers, or any of the airline workers who are in the airport, using our airport, who have come down with coronavirus and needed to be quarantined. But we were able to put into place very early on, I think safety practices and protocols that I think then were modeled by other airports. I know that very early on, before other airports were doing it, we were working with our air traffic control, for example, to establish contingency plans, should there be an incident of coronavirus in the air traffic control tower, setting up a remote tower to make sure that we had continuity of operation if we had to control shut the control tower down and had to move operations to somewhere else."
Calderone adds the airport is looking at ways to cut expenses right now, but no employees are being furloughed.

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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