ALBANY — The eight-county Capital Region area will likely not meet the seven requirements to open by May 15, but it does not have to wait two weeks to being Phase I.
“I asked if we had to wait two weeks and I was told the minute you can meet it you can open up,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said during his daily briefing on Wednesday.
Three regions of the state can being opening under Phase I, which includes roughly construction, manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup. Phase II is slated to begin two weeks later for those regions that meet the state mandated metrics.
The Capital Region — which is made up of counties from Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren, Washington, Greene and Columbia — falls short on the number of deaths recorded hospitals over two-weeks or a three-day average of less than five deaths over the same time frame. It meets the other six requirements including the number of new hospitalizations, administering 30 tests per 1,000 people over a 30-day time frame and having a general hospital and ICU capacity and of at least 30 percent reserved for COVID-19 patients.
Earlier this week, Saratoga and Warren counties started their own task forces to reopen segments of the economy that have been closed for the last two months but, under the state plan, the metrics must be met regionally.
“I know Saratoga has their own committee on how to open up. They have different issues up north,” McCoy said. “They have the track and racinos and they rely heavily on the tourism business but we have to do this together and we have to do this as a group.”
The number of positive cases and hospitalizations across the state are decreasing. In Albany County there were 1,386 total positive cases with 887 who have recovered. More than 400 of the total positive cases are related to nursing homes, be it residents or employees.
There was one fatality reported from Tuesday to Wednesday — a man in his 70s with underlying health issues. All but two of the 62 Albany County residents who died in Albany were older than 60 and all but one had underlying health issues.
As things do begin to open up, officials are warning that should a spike in numbers occur things will get shut down again.
“ We are seeing low rates of hospitalizations and it indicates to me that what we are doing is flattening the curve,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department. “What is important to remember as we go forward that this is unlikely this is happening because the coronavirus has gone away. It is unlikely it will go away until we have a safe and effective and widely available vaccination and that is likely many months away.
“As we open, we will likely see cases increase but what we want to guard against are spikes that are difficult to manage.”
The Capital Region’s plan to reopen is complete but McCoy said all seven counties need to sign off before it can be submitted to the state for consideration. He said that may happen on Thursday.