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COVID-19 locally: 'The next wave has started'

Oct 29, 2020 6:33 am
The coronavirus outbreak is as large now locally as it was in May during the lockdown, Bethany Bump reports in the Times Union. The Capital Region is just 17 recent cases short of the area's spring peak of 147 new cases recorded May 1, a Times Union analysis of local county data shows. "It seems as though for us, the next wave has started," said Dr. Fred Venditti, hospital general director for Albany Medical Center. Columbia County reported four new COVID-19 cases Oct. 28, and the 41st death from coronavirus there, this one tied to the Ghent Assisted Living Facility. There are recent cases in many local schools including Catskill, Greenville, Taconic Hills, Ichabod Crane, and Hudson. There are currently 35 active cases in the Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie. There are also outbreaks at the Ghent Assisted Living Facility, and the Brookwood Secure Center for juvenile offenders in Claverack. Ichabod Crane 4th through 12th graders will continue online learning on Oct. 29 while the district waits for results from COVID-19 tests on middle and high school students. There are 19 people hospitalized from Columbia County right now. There were 11 new cases of COVID-19 announced by the Rensselaer County Health Department on Oct. 28. The five-day rolling average of new daily cases in the region on Oct. 26 was 78 cases, and the earlier peak was 117 on May 2. New York state reports that daily hospitalizations in the region have increased more than 400 percent over the past month, from 15 on Sept. 27 to 80 on Oct. 27. Columbia County Public Health Director Jack Mabb said Oct. 27 that officials will start fining businesses where people are not wearing masks now that the outbreak is so prevalent locally. The only good news is that there are fewer deaths considering how many more cases there are now. “What’s interesting is we’re seeing a very, very different outcome for patients being hospitalized now than we did in the spring,” Dr. Steven Hanks, chief clinical officer for St. Peter’s Health Partners, told the Times Union. “The mortality rate seems to be much lower. The number of hospitalized patients who go to the ICU is down compared with spring. The number of patients needing to be ventilated is down compared with spring. And the number of patients who are dying with COVID-19 who are hospitalized is down compared with spring.” With schools reopening, and pandemic fatigue setting in, health officials are urging people to help stop the spread of the disease. “People were taking that to mean they could be doing other things, like attending parties and socializing in groups and maybe letting their guard down in terms of wearing masks and keeping distance socially and avoiding large gatherings,” Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen said about in-person teaching at schools. “But those latter three strategies are more important than ever and what people need to understand is the ability for us to keep businesses functioning and schools open are entirely contingent on those behaviors.” If things don't get better soon, there will be another lockdown. “If people aren’t compliant and if people keep acting like it’s either a hoax or it doesn’t exist or they don’t like to wear masks, you know, yeah, we could be heading for (another shutdown),” Whalen said.