ALBANY — The eight-county Capital District is slated to hit Phase III a week from today, but County Executive Dan McCoy said, the metrics are looking so good it could come sooner.
The two main business types in Phase II are restaurants and bars with sit down dining and personal grooming such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapy, and tanning and waxing services.
All social distancing and other safety protocols will apply to the businesses waiting to open as those that are already open including social distancing between patrons, masks, hand hygiene and sanitization.
“If you want to sit at a bar you have to keep six feet apart so if you have a small bar do the math. You may only have three people allowed,” McCoy said during his daily briefing.
Restaurants were given the surprising green light to allow outside, in-house dining last week as long as social distancing was followed and customers and employees followed the mask mandate. Many have moved tables to the sidewalks and some have erected tents, which are fine, McCoy said, if the sides are up and fresh air is allowed to circulate.
Meanwhile, from Tuesday to Wednesday, Albany County lost its 116th resident to COVID-19, a woman in her 70s with underlying health issues. All but two of the 116 were older than 60 and all but two had underlying health issues.
Restrictions on funeral homes laying a body to rest due to COVID-19 are loosening up a bit, McCoy said. Funeral directors can now allow small gatherings and limit the number of people who can say good bye at the same time rather than not allowing any sort of service.
On Wednesday, there were 1,809 positive cases in Albany County with 549 under mandatory quarantine and 1,526 who have recovered.
The numbers are holding, but the county is still awaiting on results from 78 people who got tested after attending the Black Lives Matter rally in Albany on May 30. That could give an indication of how much the virus was spread at other rallies across the Capital District including a massive gathering in Troy and smaller ones in Clifton Park, Bethlehem and Niskayuna.
On Tuesday there were 12 people hospitalized for a rate of .66 percent and there were not any people in the ICU for the first time since mid-March. The 70-year-old mentioned above was in the ICU earlier this week.
Also, the statewide mandate to test all nursing home residents and employees twice a week was cut to once a week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The numbers continue to go down and that is good news and it is indicative of the effort everyone is putting in,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department.