ALBANY — There is good and bad news on the COVID-19 front.
For the time being, there will not be a microcluster zone in the county or any of the eight-county Capital District Region.
And, some doses of the vaccine should be in Albany County by Dec. 12 for health care workers and those in congregate settings like nursing homes.
Also, the federal Center of Disease Control recommends a reduction in the required quarantine time for those exposed to an infected person from two weeks to seven days with a test and 10 days without a test. However, the recommendations have not been adopted by the state Department of Health.
Another bit of good news is on Wednesday, there were 163 people who tested positive have recovered.
But, there is some bad news.
Albany County set another one-day record for infections from Tuesday to Wednesday with 167 bringing the total number of cases to 6,038 since the pandemic took hold in March. The previous record was set from Monday to Tuesday with 159 new cases.
Also, a man in his 90s died from Tuesday to Wednesday bringing the death toll to 161. And there were 17 new hospitalizations bringing the total number of county residents being treated for COVID-19 in a hospital to 84.
Deputy County Executive Dan Lynch said the state has changed the parameters to qualify an area a microcluster zone. Even by the old metrics — a seven-day average infection rate of 3 percent or higher for 10 consecutive days is a yellow zone — Albany County does not qualify because on Nov. 25, that rolling rate was 2.987 so the count reset on Nov. 26. As of Wednesday, the county was in day five of a new 10-day count. The bad news is that on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 the infection rate was more than 4 percent so it qualifies for an orange zone, which is more restrictive.
But, he said, since then the state has changed the way it calculates the designation and it now includes hospitalizations, the availability of regular hospital beds, ICU beds, and staff and the number of deaths.
“From all accounts, it appears from a capacity level the hospitals in the Capital Region are in a good place,” Lynch said. “The hospitals are working in unison to meet the needs if there is a surge.”
How the new metrics fold into the old metrics, though, is still not crystal clear, he said. It is also not clear what geographic area will become a microcluster, what the restrictions are for businesses or what the testing requirements will be in schools.
Basically, under the old parameters, there are mandated reductions in the number of people allowed in certain businesses under a yellow zone and increased testing for school children, in an orange zone there are capacity restrictions and gyms, salons, barber shops and movie theaters would close, in a red zone all non-essential businesses will close. State imposed capacity restrictions on houses of worship was shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court so it is also not clear what restrictions the state can try to impose on churches.
The state Department of Health will determine the geographic boundaries of a microcluster zone and it could be an entire region, a county, a municipality, a zip code, a census tract or something as arbitrary as a neighborhood.
By the numbers on Wednesday:
- There are 904 active cases of COVID in Albany County, down from 910
- The number of people under mandatory quarantine dropped to 2,181 from 2,370
- Of the 24,085 people who completed mandatory quarantine, 5,134 tested positive and recovered.