ALBANY — A man in his 70s with “multiple underlying health problems” is the county’s first death to COVID-19.
The man, who is not being identified at this time, died at St. Peter’s Hospital on Saturday, March 28.
As of Sunday, there are 187 confirmed cases in Albany County, up from 178 on Saturday, with 505 under mandatory quarantine and 233 under precautionary quarantine. There are 15 people hospitalized with seven in the ICU, according to Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, the head of the county Health Department, during a daily briefing.
Meanwhile, County Executive Dan McCoy said there are reports of restaurants serving people food and drink inside the establishments rather than by the widely accepted curb side pickups.
He said if the practice continues, the proprietors will face a $10,000 fine, the potential loss of their liquor license and the county will “embarrass you socially” and make sure “everyone knows who you are.”
“We want restaurants open, we want people to be able to pick it up at curbside but we will not tolerate people serving food to people sitting down or having drinks,” he said. “They shouldn’t even be walking into your establishment.”
The lack of testing continues to skew the numbers, Whalen and McCoy said. Widespread community testing was stopped last week and the only ones given a test now are those with symptoms being admitted to a hospital and health care workers who are more likely to be exposed.
If community testing did continue as it was a week ago, McCoy said the numbers would be much higher. Most people, more than 80 percent, who contract the virus recover on their own and do not need medical care. Older people and those with underlying health issues are more susceptible.
Also, on Saturday, the City of Albany reported two firefighters tested positive, including one who is also an EMT.
Whalen said the county is working on tracking who the two came in contact with in recent days.
In other developments, President Donald Trump backed off quarantining the hard hit areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Many have fled those areas to state’s and areas with fewer cases like Florida and Rhode Island. Governors have enacted two-week quarantines for anyone travelling from New York state.
Also, many upstate counties, where the virus is not as widespread as more densely populated areas, are asking people who come north from downstate to self-quarantine for two weeks but it is not clear if it is being enforced or if the counties have the authority to enforce such a directive.