ALBANY — As of Friday afternoon, there are 176 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Albany County, up 10 from Thursday. But, warns Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, the head of the county Health Department, since community testing has come to a halt, that number is misleading and the infection rate is likely more widespread.
“The only way we can really know what is going on is to have community testing,” she said. “In the absence of being able to conduct widespread community testing the only mitigation tool we have is to practice social distancing.”
Every person who is infected, she said, can spread it to 2.2 people. Those 2.2 will spread it to more people …
Statewide the number is rapidly approaching 40,000 confirmed cases with the vast majority of them downstate.
The limited number of available COVID-19 test kits are being reserved for those with symptoms who require hospitalization and the health care workers who are treating the patients.
County Executive Dan McCoy said he, like local officials across the country, is working on getting more test kits and should have an announcement to that end in a “couple days.”
On a positive note, he said, the two-month-old hospitalized with the virus earlier this week has been discharged.
There are 540 people in Albany County under mandatory quarantine and another 247 under precautionary quarantine. There are 14 hospitalized with the virus with six adults, ages 25 to 75, in the ICU.
Some 400 people associated with the Farnsworth Middle School finished up with their precautionary quarantine earlier this week.
It is not clear how many people were infected with the disease have recovered on their own.
“The total number is the total number,” McCoy said. “That is the number we deal with. There are people recovering from this and that is the news we want. But to say that number is less? The number would be a lot higher if we were continuing the tests like we were a week ago.”
Starting Monday, Albany County and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York will start delivering food to people who are under either type of quarantine and can’t, or shouldn’t leave their house. The National Guard will be on hand to help deliver the food.
Right now, Whalen said, there are enough hospital beds in Albany County but there is talk of moving patients from downstate to upstate facilities.
McCoy said, as of Friday, the plan is to not move Covid-19 patients upstate but instead move patients in the hospital for other ailments in order to open up beds in New York City and other downstate locations.