ALBANY — Echoing the President and calling the long, grueling fight against COVID-19 a “fight against the unvaccinated,” County Executive Dan McCoy said 72 percent of county residents who recently died from COVID-19 were not vaccinated.
Of the 25 Albany County residents who died in September and the first three weeks of October, 24 percent were fully vaccinated and 4 percent were partially vaccinated.
Of those hospitalized, 63 percent were not vaccinated, 35 percent were fully vaccinated and the remaining 2 percent had the first of a two-shot regiment.
The raw numbers demonstrate the trend now happening in Albany County and other places. Between Sept. 21 and Oct. 21 there were 21 COVID-19 deaths and 126 new hospitalizations. A month ago, from Aug. 21 to Sept. 21, there were 11 deaths and 118 hospitalizations and the month before that there was only one death and 70 new hospitalizations, McCoy said.
“The situation now compared to the end of the summer is much, much worse and we have not gotten into the winter. If our daily infections and hospitalizations gets worse, we will have to carefully look at our hospital systems to make sure we have the proper capacity,” he said, adding he will begin to implement restrictions if the trend continues.
Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the county Health Department, said she and her entire family have gotten vaccinated.
“This is the safest way for them to prevent illness and prevent them from contacting illness that can be spread to vulnerable individuals,” she said. “This is not about personal liberty. This is a matter of how you behave effects the person you are with.”
But that is not the only thing people should be doing, McCoy said. Masks should be worn while in large crowds, proper hand hygiene must be practiced and social distancing is still highly recommended.
“Just because you are vaccinated doesn’t mean you won’t get sick. The vaccine is a tool in the arsenal to prevent you from going in the hospital, or the ICU or from passing away,” he said. “We never said it was a cure-all. There is no cure-all.”
Whalen said the mitigation efforts the county has hammered home since the beginning of the pandemic are “more important now than ever.”
“How we all act and what we all do will determine the future,” she said. “It is extremely important now as we enter the respiratory viral season. It highlights the need for testing even if you have minor symptoms.”
As of Sunday, Oct. 24, 72.4 percent of all Albany County residents received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and 66.5 percent are fully vaccinated. The first dose vaccination rate for residents 18 and older is now 83.5 percent.
Whalen said the federal Center for Disease Control has given the OK for booster shots. Those eligible, she said, are people 65 and older as well as those 18 and older who are living in long-term settings, those with underlying medical conditions and those who work in high risk settings. The county will soon be giving boosters along with the standard vaccinations.
The county is also awaiting federal guidance on vaccinating children less than 12 years old and is working with the school districts and pedestrians on formulating a plan that could be implemented by the end of November.
Whalen said between 25 and 40 percent of the new cases in any given week are in the K through 12th grade population. She said the large number of positive cases correlates with the large number of tests being given in the schools. The county and school districts are working to develop a plan so children will not have to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus provided they are vaccinated.
“Most of the kids who are infected have asymptomatic illness, we are not seeing high levels of hospitalization in children, however we have a vulnerable population of those who are not vaccinated and those who are vaccinated and have decreased immune as a result of the vaccine,” she said. “Those are who we are seeing hospitalized and those who are dying of COVID-19.”
As of Monday, Oct. 25, there were 30,866 confirmed cases in Albany County since the pandemic began in March, 2020, an increase of 54 from the day before. The county’s five-day average of new cases was 77.2. On Monday, there were 526 active cases in Albany County, down from 573 a day prior.
As of Monday, there were 40 county residents hospitalized, an increase of two. The death toll was 421.
For a list of vaccination sites visit the county Department of Health website or call 518-447-7198.