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Capital Region Inches Closer To Reopening

Albany County

New York’s Capital Region is getting closer to reopening from the coronavirus shutdown.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy released his "Capital Region Forward" reopening plan over the weekend. Under the measure, the region will have at least 30 percent of hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume, as the state requires. Each medical facility must stockpile a 90-day supply of PPE. The region must also maintain enough testing sites to accommodate the population and advertise where and how people can get tested.

McCoy says his plan was reviewed and approved by the Capital Region Control Room, which is in charge of the region’s reopening process and will monitor regional indicators during the phased reopening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection, and PPE burn rate. But there's a caveat.

"Just because we're opening up doesn't mean we're back to business as usual. I keep telling everyone, reimagine what the workforce and everything is going to look like, it's just phase one, people. You know, curbside pickup, that type of stuff, construction. It doesn't mean that everyone can run outside their door and start going down the street and going out like there's nothing ever happened."

McCoy says it is important to succeed at Phase One "so we can go on to Phase Two."

"We have our pledge form out there we're getting out to all the to all the businesses to sign the pledge to start to reopen it up, and how to train them, how to train their workers, and have the workers identify patrons that, eventually if you get into phase 3 and the restaurants open up, that type of stuff. But there's a whole slew of things we have to do to continue to move forward in a positive way, and we can only do that with your help."

County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen says the highest number of infections continues to be in the densely populated 12203 zip code in Albany, which according to federal data is nearly 75% white and has a large number of people in their late 20s to early 40s.

She notes the 20 to 29 age group poses the biggest danger when it comes to spreading the virus.

"These younger people that are infected with COVID-19 are likely causing infections in older individuals. And this is where we see the disproportionate burden of death and disease. So this is why it's important for this younger age group to be very vigilant as they're out and about, with social distancing, masks and hand hygiene. Because really, it's not just about yourself. It's about those that you care about. About the older age group that will suffer disproportionate burden of illness, ICU and death if they contract this disease."

Monday afternoon, Rensselaer County officials announced six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, affecting individuals ranging in age from 19 to 32. The county now has 473 confirmed cases and a total of 28 deaths. Seven people are hospitalized.

McCoy says Albany County's latest numbers show one new death: a man in his 90s with underlying health conditions, bringing the toll to 69.

"As of now we have 1,470 positive cases of the coronavirus which brings us up 23 from yesterday. We have 827 people under mandatory quarantine. It goes up a little bit from yesterday, it's 55 more people. We have six people on a precautionary quarantine and that stays the same as yesterday."

Twenty-nine people are hospitalized.

  • McCoy also encouraged those who are available and able to apply to become a contact tracer through the New York State Contact Tracing Initiative. Prospective candidates will have to meet certain eligibility criteria, take an online course and pass a short test. For more information, please use this link.
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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