ALBANY — Eight county residents died of COVID-19 from Friday, Aug. 27 to Friday, Sept. 3, the day this paper went to print.
Of those, said County Executive Dan McCoy, four were fully vaccinated, one reported being vaccinated but it could not be confirmed and three were not vaccinated.
The ages of those who died are: one person in their 30s, two in their 40s, two in their 50s, two in their 60s and one in their 70s. Four were men and four were women and all but one had a medical condition.
The death toll in Albany County stands at 397 as of Friday.
As of Friday, Sept. 3, there were 26,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic took hold in March, 2020. The county’s five-day average of new daily positive cases is up to 78.8 while the recent seven-day average of percent positive rates is 5.1 percent and the eight-county Capital Region’s rate is now 4.8 percent.
As of Friday, there were 516 active cases in the county, up from 497 on Thursday. The number of people under mandatory quarantine increased to 824 from 820. So far, 85,010 people have completed quarantine to date. Of those who completed quarantine, 26,208 of them had tested positive and recovered — an increase of 76 additional recoveries.
There were three new hospitalizations from Thursday to Friday bringing the total to 25 with seven patients in ICUs, down from nine yesterday.
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department, said the delta variant is at the root of the spike in numbers and the vaccine does not guarantee a person will not get infected. Of the 1,870 cases reported from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31, 826 were fully vaccinated. A caveat, she said, is that people were self-reporting and telling health officials they were vaccinated.
“Where we find ourselves now, in New York state, is we have seen our cases increase 10 fold since early July and 95 percent are the Delta variant,” she said. “We know it is more highly contagious and we believe it is directly responsible for the spread we are seeing.”
She said the situation continues to evolve and that is why the guidance given in April — to not wear masks once vaccinated — no longer applies now.
“The game has changed and because that game has changed we are now getting as much information as we can to inform the public on best practice and it will be different information,” she said.
She said the vaccine is still an effective protection against hospitalization and/or death but it is waning over time.
“I am still joining public health and national experts to encourage people to still get vaccinated,”: she said. “It does help your body produce the antibodies to fight the infection. But we also know the vaccine is not enough we know when we are in a place like Albany County with a high prevalence of infection there are other measures we have to take and that includes masking and social distancing.”
She said right now the federal government is recommending that booster shots be available by Sept. 20 but when they will be recommended is still up in the air. Right now, booster shots are not yet approved by the CDC and vaccinations are not yet approved for children under 12.
As of Thursday, Sept. 2, 69.7 percent of all Albany County residents have received at least the first dose, and 63.9 percent have been fully vaccinated. The first dose vaccination rate for the county’s 18 and older population is up to 80.6 percent.
Albany County continues to deliver vaccines to homebound residents, which includes seniors, disabled individuals, those lacking childcare and those with other accessibility issues. Anyone who would like to schedule a time for a vaccine appointment should call 518-447-7198.
Residents can also receive free Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., each week at the Albany County Department of Health located at 175 Green St.
The 12 and older population is currently eligible. No appointments are needed and walk-ins are welcome. Those 12 to 15 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Free transportation is available for anyone at least 60 years old by calling the county Department for Aging in advance at 518-447-7198.
For general information on the vaccine, residents can also dial the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s 2-1-1 hotline or the Albany County Department of Health at 518-447-4580.