ALBANY — There has not been a fatality due to COVID-19 in the county since Thursday, and Sheriff Craig Apple Sr. said deaths due to heroin and other drugs is outpacing deaths due to the virus.
“That is something we need to focus on as folks can’t get out to meetings, alcohol meetings and narcotics meetings, and they are regressing and we have had a big spike,” he said on Tuesday. “And we have had some bad heroin and bad cocaine in the area.”
Last week in the Capital District there were a reported two deaths and 30 overdoses from a bad batch of cocaine mixed with fentanyl.
The exact number of deaths due to heroin overdose was not immediately available.
As the number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities continue to decline and businesses begin to open back up — Phase II of the reopening plan is set to begin on June 3 provided the numbers hold — County Executive Dan McCoy said it is not a time to let our guard down.
“People are saying to me ‘I am done with this virus’ but it is not done with us,” he said.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,639 positive cases in Albany County. There was 1,640 on Monday, but three of those cases were actually Rensselaer County residents so Albany County added two new cases from Monday to Tuesday. The five-day average of new cases is 12.
Of the positive cases, 1,200 have recovered, up 41 from Monday. There have been 76 deaths.
As people are getting out and businesses begin plans to reopen, McCoy said it will be up to the consumers and the employees to notify authorities if proper protocols like social distancing, masks sanitization practices are not being followed.
“It would be hard for us to go out and check on all these stores so we are relying on you to come tell us if someone is not complying,” he said. “Usually once we address them, they fall into compliance if there is an issue and some people are just complaining to complain.”
Apple said he has received a number of complaints with many that turn out to be nothing.
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department, said our actions have been successful in flattening the curve but the protocols in place now will continue into the future.
“We know a lot of what we have done across the state and in Albany County has been successful in flattening the curve,” she said. “There is a lot we don’t know, if the decline in cases is related to a possible season effect of COVID-19 and we don’t know if we will see another surge in the fall. All of these things should be informing our thoughts and behaviors as we go forward.”