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Some Sports Will Start Up As Capital Region Continues COVID-19 Battle

Saratoga County Health Services Commissioner Dr. Daniel Kuhles
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Saratoga County Health Services Commissioner Dr. Daniel Kuhles

As the vaccine rollout continues, upstate New York continues to battle the pandemic on several fronts.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said Friday the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county is up to 18,009 to date, an increase of 171 new positive cases since Thursday.

"Unfortunately the thing we continue to watch is the hospitalizations in the ICU and we have 13 new hospitalizations overnight. Currently, there's 162 Albany County residents that are hospitalized 11 patients are currently in the ICU, and that stays the same since yesterday."

Across the river, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin says all doses of vaccine received have been given to residents.

"This week we got 2,900 for our seniors, we're going to get every one of those done. We have appointments scheduled. So that's looking good. Cases, pretty much the same as everyone else's seeing around the area and around the state. They seem like they are peaking out a little bit. We seem to be declining, which is really good news. Not a massive decline, but it does seem to be trending in the right direction."

On its website, Albany Medical Center says there is currently a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, so it will take time to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive it. Again, McCoy.

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"For those who want to get the vaccine or check their eligibility, please use the state's number 1-833-697-4829" ~ Albany County Executive Dan McCoy

"For those who want to get the vaccine or check their eligibility, please use the state's number 1-833-697-4829, and in our great partnership with Pete Gannon from the United Way, the 211, which has been a huge success around the state of New York, not just here in the Capital Region but for people just navigating that web, because it is difficult. And it hasn't gotten any better."

New York updated its COVID-19 guidelines last Friday, permitting local county health departments to decide whether their districts can start playing “high-risk” high school sports beginning February 1. Earlier this week McCoy said it's not likely that high-risk sports will be allowed in Albany County until the rolling 7-day coronavirus test positivity rate falls to 4% or below. McLaughlin says all districts in Rensselaer County have been given the go-ahead.

"We've made what we feel is the right decision for the kids, and the schools and the parents. And we know they can do this safely. And it's time to get back to, you know, get the kids moving again. They've been held back for a really long time. And I also feel like it's not just sports, it also has to be music, in the arts, in, in theater, things like that, because even though that kid may not be a basketball star or football star, it doesn't mean they're not a music star or an acting star. So we want them to be able to express themselves as well, because taking away this opportunity for these kids is not good. And for some of them, this is their last chance. They're not going to go on and play college sports so they may not go on to play music in college. So this is their time to shine and we want them to have that."

Along with Montgomery County, Saratoga County approved higher risk k-12 sponsored school sports to resume February 1st as long as schools meet requirements and communities meet COVID-19 metrics. Officials say they are looking into ways to get students back on playing fields. Health Services Commissioner Dr. Daniel Kuhles:

"Each superintendent must oversee the creation of a sports specific preparedness plan. And that will need to be include approved by the school medical director. Each parent or guardian must sign an informed consent for participation and each student athlete must have a clearance to to play from their health care provider."

Officials have directed Kuhles to investigate and present his recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors at a special meeting on February 4th.

Elsewhere, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says wedding ceremonies, with restrictions, can start back up on March 15th. Cuomo says the receptions are limited to 150 people or 50 percent of a venue’s capacity. COVID testing and local health department approval are required.

Cuomo also said Friday indoor dining can reopen in New York City at 25 percent capacity as of February 14th.

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