ALBANY — Two more county residents died from COVID-19 from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the total number to 16.
Both were males, one in his 60s and one in his 70s. The younger of the two had underlying health issues. The health condition of the older was not known at the time of County Executive Dan McCoy’s daily press briefing on Tuesday, April 14.
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The total number of positive cases in Albany County jumped 24 to 499, with 677 under mandatory quarantine, up 38 from Monday, and 77 under precautionary quarantine. There are 35 residents hospitalized, for a rate of 7 percent, with 13 residents in the ICU.
McCoy said he doesn’t expect things to open back up before July and said a return to school appears unlikely at this time. Schools statewide are now closed until at least April 30.
Statewide, there were 778 deaths from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the total to 10,834. But, the number of hospitalizations, the three day average of overall hospitalizations and the number of people on a ventilator continue to go down indicating a plateau of the curve.
In the Capital District, the number of positive cases is increasing due, in large part, to more tests being conducted. This is the second week community testing has been conducted at UAlbany. The limited number of test kits were being reserved for those with symptoms bad enough to warrant hospitalization, health care workers and first responders.
A plan to initiate mobile testing will be outlined later this week, McCoy said.
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department, said social distancing and what is essentially a statewide shutdown did work in not overwhelming health care systems but the flip side of that is less people have developed an internal immunity to the virus.
That makes re-opening society all the more tricky.
“What it has not done is conferred immunity on people so the vast majority of people are still susceptible to COVID and can still be infected,” she said. “That that is why it is important to consider a public health informed way of phasing people back in.”
The risk is opening too soon, without the proper checks and balances, could end up again threatening to overwhelm the health care systems.
The plan, short of a vaccination, which is being worked on at a number of labs around the world, is to isolate those who test positive and track everyone they came into contact with and when necessary place them under precautionary quarantine.
“We still have the potential of having the same situation we are trying to control because we know the vast majority of people are still susceptible,” she said. “Just to bring everyone back would likely bring a surge capacity to the hospitals.”
Because there are likely so many people carrying the virus without show any symptoms, Whalen reiterated the importance of wearing masks in public, a technique generally not effective with other viruses.
“Early on, it was the belief that asymptomatic spread was not a driver,” she said. “With COVID-19 we are seeing people who look fine, in terms of not having any symptoms, and these people have COVID-19 and are spreading it.”
Generally, a surgical mask will help not spread the disease, in that respiratory droplets will be captured by the mask rather than expelled into the air, but offers less protection for contracting the disease. Homemade masks can be helpful, but will not do as well of a job as store-bought surgical masks.