ALBANY — There were 99 new positive COVID-19 cases from Tuesday to Wednesday, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began taking hold earlier this spring.
As the number of COVID cases increases across the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered on Wednesday all bars, restaurants and gyms to close at 10 p.m. statewide beginning on Friday. Private gatherings and parties are capped at 10 people, 15 less than what was previously allowed.
The 99 new cases in Albany County brings the total number of cases to 4,114 with 1,492 people under mandatory quarantine. The five-day average of COVID cases jumped to 66 from 55 with 416 active cases in the county. Of the 18,233 who completed mandatory quarantine, 3,698 people tested positive and recovered.
“We have not had this many cases since April 30 (94) and we have not had this many people under mandatory quarantine,” said County Executive Dan McCoy.
Of the new positive cases, 41 had close contact with infected people, three reported traveling out of state, 42 did not have a clear source of infection at this time, and 13 are healthcare workers or residents of congregate settings – though none from Shaker Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
“We are seeing a disturbing rise in the number of cases. The amount of testing we are doing cannot explain this alone. It is obvious this indicates there is a bigger risk in the community and there is community spread,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department.
There were two new county residents hospitalized overnight but the total number of county residents currently hospitalized decreased to 35 from 36. There are five patients in the ICU. The hospitalization rate has gone down to 0.85 percent from 0.89 percent.
The county’s death toll remains at 144 since the outbreak began.
McCoy said of the people contacted by the Albany County Health Department as part of its contact tracing program, some 60 percent lie about their whereabouts and who they have come into close contact. That, he said, doesn’t help anyone.
“We are not moving in the right direction and personal responsibility is a big reason,” he said. “If you don’t need to go somewhere, don’t. If you get the call and are told to quarantine, do it. If you test positive and the contact tracer asks where you have been and with whom, be honest. Fourteen days in your house is not going to kill you.”
Hospitals across the region are limiting the number of people allowed into the hospital to those visiting people near the end of life, the partner of a woman having a baby, two parents per child and there will be compassionate exceptions for extraordinary cases.
According to Dr. Dennis McKenna, president and CEO of Albany Medical Center Hospital, there were five patients at his hospital three weeks ago but 27 on Wednesday. Likewise, there were 15 COVID patients across the Capital Region three weeks ago and on Wednesday there were 130.
At the height of the pandemic, when patients were being shipped up from New York City, there were 84 COVID patients at Albany Med, he said during an appearance on Talk1300.
“As we have seen from the beginning, these are people 60 and above many are 70, 80, and 90 years old,” he said of the cases requiring hospitalization. “These are people with underlying medical conditions – obesity, diabetes, heart disease. We have no children in the hospital and we have not had a child in the hospital for quite some time. It’s very rare if we find someone who is young and healthy and needs hospitalization because of COVID.”
He reiterated that COVID is a virus that attacks mainly the upper respiratory system and the increased numbers at Albany Med are consistent with those hospitalized for seasonal flu during the fall and winter months.