Capital Region Reopening Moves Ahead, Cautiously
The Capital Region began the first phase of reopening on Wednesday, but Albany County has seen an uptick in positive coronavirus cases and is issuing a warning regarding socializing this holiday weekend.
Albany County reported an increase in positive cases of the virus on Thursday. County Executive Dan McCoy says a 15th resident of the county-run Shaker Place nursing home has died, bringing the county death toll to 73 during the pandemic.
"As of today there's 1,578 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus, that's up 26 from yesterday. 906 people under mandatory quarantine, that's up 59 from yesterday."
McCoy adds five people are under precautionary quarantine with the five-day average of daily new positive cases now at 25.4. Albany County reported no new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past day. One person remains in intensive care.
Thirteen people remain hospitalized in Schenectady County, according to County Manager Rory Fluman:
"Wear your mask, wash your hands, be socially responsible with social distancing. That is every individual's responibility. The county government's responsibility is to test, trace and isolate."
With warm weather forecast for the Memorial Day weekend, McCoy warns against large gatherings, reminding residents to continue to social distance, practice good hand hygiene and stay home as much as possible to expedite the transition into Phase 2 of reopening.
If you have to go out you should wear a mask, advice accompanied by a warning from County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen:
"These surgical masks that many of you right now are wearing, are worn in our operating rooms. They are there to filter droplets and are effective in respiratory droplet precaution for the person that's wearing them. Does that mean they're foolproof and protecting the wearer against covid infection? The answer is no. We believe that they are better at source protection, which is if you have the infection, it prevents others around you from getting that infection. N-95 masks that hospital workers are are a better source of protection. So I want to put that out because I've heard from people that I know that people think if they are wearing masks, they themselves are protected. That's not the entire story. You're not completely protected wearing a surgical mask. You are offered some level of droplet protection, but you are not offered aerosol protection."
McCoy notes with summer coming up, child care is emerging as an issue in reopening.
"One of the big questions we've been getting is daycare, and I know some places like the YMCA and PAL, a few of them are still advertising, camps are going to continue on in July and August. If we start continue to go in the right direction face for starts, July 1st, so that could happen. And that still means you have to be in groups of less than 10 and there's a bunch of protocols they got to follow, and the guidance keeps changing. So in our control room meetings, we bring this up all the time, because not only are essential employees having a hard time with daycare, non-essential workers that we hope to get back starting in Phase 2 after the 3rd of June, are going to have issues with daycare."
Officials watching the Capital Region are also keeping an eye on Central New York, where COVID-19 hospitalizations have been trending higher, warning that Phase One could be "paused" in any region at any time.