After this story was published, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held his daily briefing and said the Capital Region area now meets the 14-day decline in hospitalizations or under a three day average of less than three hospitalizations per day over the same time frame. On Sunday, it fell short on that metric but now the Capital Region area meets six of the seven parameters required to begin opening on May 15.
ALBANY — It will be nearly impossible for the Capital Region area to meet two of the seven parameters required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo without some “clarification” on nursing homes and hospitals.
The issue is Albany Medical Center Hospital is a regional hospital, said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy during his daily briefing on Tuesday, so patients come from outside the area. And, he said, many of the deaths recorded are coming from nursing homes so he said that should be considered separately from the general population.
“If we remove some deaths from Albany Med and get an exemption from nursing homes we would meet the requirements,” McCoy said. “We have a lot of nursing homes in Albany County and a lot of nursing homes in the Capital District. We know this has been ground zero not just here but across the country and overseas. But to have that number held against us, we will never open. It would be nearly impossible. We are saying nursing homes should be categorized differently.”
The state was sending patients from the hardest hit areas of downstate, sometimes by helicopter, to free up hospital beds, beds which were never filled to capacity. After intense criticism, the state also recently reversed a March 25 mandate moving COVID-19 positive patients who did not need critical care into nursing homes and mandated all residents and employees get tested twice a week, something extremely difficult for localities to accomplish, McCoy said.
The Capital Region — which includes Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, Washington, Columbia and Green counties — falls short on the required 14-day decline in hospitalizations or a three-day average of less than 15 hospitalizations over the same time frame, and a required 14-day decline in the number of deaths in a hospital or a three-day average of less than five deaths over the same time frame.
“If they don’t address the concerns [with hospitals and nursing homes] we will never hit the metrics,” McCoy said.
When Cuomo first introduced the seven point metric system the Capital Region area did meet the required reduction of hospital deaths over a 14-day period but now it does not. It was not meeting the requirement to test 30 people per 1,000 residents every 30 days, but now it does. It is also “expected” to meet having 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.
Just three regions of the state — the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley and the Southern Tier — meet all seven parameters and are able to begin opening on May 15, the day the state is slated begin “unpausing.”
McCoy said he and the heads of the other seven counties are preparing a plan to partake in Phase I of the reopening plan, which includes construction, manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup, and is planning to submit it by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, there were 1,375 positive cases in Albany County reported on Tuesday, up a dozen from Monday. There are 913 under mandatory quarantine, down 66, and 17 under precautionary quarantine.
There have been 3,388 who completed quarantine with 837 who tested positive and recovered.
There are 31 Albany County residents hospitalized for a rate of 2.3 percent.
Despite doing more tests than any other upstate county, McCoy said over the last five days there has been an average of 19.6 new positive cases per day.
“The numbers of new positives everyday continues to be on a downward trend,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department, despite the expansion of the testing regime now includes up to 100 asymptomatic essential workers per day.
Due to limited number of test kits, only those who were showing symptoms of COVID-19 were getting tested.