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Capital Region COVID-19 Update 5/6/20

COVID-19 Diagram
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As New York’s On Pause order remains in effect, county leaders are working together to ensure businesses can reopen on a regional basis.

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a series of guidelines for when regions can re-open.

Public officials are now beginning to coordinate so they can reopen as soon as possible.

The first criteria that regions must meet is a reduced number of new infections. Based on CDC guidelines, regions must have at least two weeks of declines in hospitalizations and deaths.

Saratoga County Public Health Director of Patient Services Cathy Medick said during a Facebook Live update Wednesday that counties in the Capital Region aren’t there yet.

“We don’t as a region meet the Phase 1 ability. We don’t meet #1 – a 14-day decline in hospitalizations. So we’ve reached out to our other county partners in public health and we are setting up a virtual meeting with those public health partners to determine who needs to come to the table to have a regional approach to meeting all of these criteria,” said Medick.

In the Capital Region, the regional coalition includes Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, and Washington Counties.

Other criteria the counties must meet:

Regions must have adequate capacity for COVID-19 patients, with at least 30 percent of hospital and ICU beds available. Testing must be stepped up, with capacity to conduct 30 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 residents per month. Regions must also have at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.

Rensselaer County opened its first mobile testing sites on Tuesday.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon, County Executive Steve McLaughlin said first responders and those most at risk would be prioritized, but encouraged those seeking a test to call.

“We do want to focus the first couple days on healthcare workers and first responders. That’s important. But we’re not excluding anybody else, either…Don’t shy away from calling, OK?”

Mobile testing will be available at Rensselaer City Hall Thursday afternoon. Mobile testing will be held Friday morning at the Lansingburgh Price Chopper parking lot. A permanent testing location will open Friday at Hudson Valley Community College.

Columbia County will also offer its first drive-through testing on Friday. Those seeking tests at the Columbia Greene Community College site must register in advance on the county health department’s website.

Counties are also working to bring on additional contact tracers, as per the reopening requirements set by the governor’s office.

During his daily update on Wednesday, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy urged patience as he works with leaders from other counties to submit a report on a reopening plan to Governor Cuomo on Monday.

“We want to do this in a safe manner, people, but it has to be run through our health department, it’s going to have to be the guidance of Dr. Whalen and her team and how we’re going to do this going forward. And testing, setting up testing going into the future and for everyone,” said McCoy. “So please stay patient. And hopefully by Monday we will have this report up and out on the website and sent to the governor’s office we can start addressing this.”

According to the most recent data, Albany County now has 1,252 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 with 32 currently hospitalized. 53 county residents have died. The county reported two deaths on Wednesday, two women with one in her 70s, the other in her 80s. One was a resident at the county-run Shaker Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

In Columbia County, 16 new positives were reported Tuesday, bringing the total number to 229. No new deaths were reported, with a total of 18 according to the most recent data from the New York State Health Department.

In Greene County, one additional death was reported, bringing the total to 12, according to the county health department. There are 200 confirmed positive cases.

In Rensselaer County, there are 375 reported positive cases, up 17 Wednesday. The number of current hospitalizations rose from six to 11, all additional hospitalizations related to the Diamond Hill nursing home in Schaghticoke.

In Saratoga County, there are 368 reported positive cases to date, up four from Tuesday. Nine are currently hospitalized with one individual on a ventilator. Fourteen deaths have been reported.

Schenectady reported 537 positive cases, up six from Tuesday, with 19 hospitalizations, up one. No new deaths were reported, with a total of 28.

In Warren County, there are now 184 positive cases, up two from Tuesday, with one additional death, bringing the total to 19.

In Washington County, there was no change in the number of positive cases or deaths, which remain at 166 and 10, respectively.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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