ALBANY — The county saw its biggest spike in COVID-19 cases in over a month.
On Wednesday, July 15, there were 44 new cases bringing the total to 2,053 said County Executive Dan McCoy during a press briefing. About half the cases are tied to a large Fourth of July party on Hudson Avenue, people who have travelled to and from other parts of the country and a health care worker who infected a nursing home.
The last spike came on June 1 when there were 37 new cases. The highest one-day total of new cases in Albany County came at the peak of the pandemic on April 30 with 94. Other spikes include on May 22 with 41 new cases, May 20 with 71 and April 25 with 80.
The spike brings the county infection rate to 2.1 percent, the highest in the state. To compare, New York City’s infection rate is 1.3 percent. The infection rate is fluid. Late last week, the eight-county Capital Region has the second lowest in the state.
“What do the April and May dates have in common with today? Why are we spiking now? The numbers came within a two-week window of a holiday. We had Passover, Easter and Mother’s Day.” McCoy said.
As of Wednesday, there were 544 people under quarantine and 77 active cases in Albany County.
On the plus side, 1,976 people who tested positive have recovered and there are only two people in the hospital for a hospitalization rate of .09 percent. No county resident is in the ICU and there has not been a fatality since the 121st person died on June 24.
At least six people tested positive at a large, multi-yard Fourth of July party along Hudson Avenue in the City of Albany. Four others tested positive after flying back to Albany from other areas, two tested positive after driving back into Albany from South Carolina and Florida, and eight residents of St. Peter’s nursing home tested positive after an infected worker returned from vacation.
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department, said there are also scattered instances of community spread. Her department is currently working to trace the history of the infected individuals and urges anyone who is showing symptoms to get tested.
“We need to stop this and we need to make sure those who are infected do not spread it to others,” she said.
While the hospitalizations remain low, Whalen said the last time there was a spike admissions came between a week and two weeks after so there is fear that could happen again. The most recent spike is largely among people “born around the year 2000,” she said, a demographic that is not susceptible to the virus’s most sever symptoms but who can readily transmit it to those who are: the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
She attributes the most recent spike to people getting complacent in the protocols of wearing a mask and social distancing.
“The last time we saw a spike we were seeing a lot more positive COVID cases across the state. Then we started lowering it, and flattening the curve by doing the right things and through the lockdown,” she said. “From my perspective, people were mindful of the message of self-protection. Human behavior being what it is, we all want this to go away we all want to get back to normal, so I think what happened when we didn’t see spikes people became complacent. Hopefully this will serve as an impetus for people to return to those protective behaviors.”
McCoy warned that while there are not any plans to roll back what has been allowed to reopen in recent weeks, if the numbers continue that is what will happen.
“People do the right thing 99 percent of the time but all it takes is that 1 percent and everything you have worked on goes right out the window,” he said.