Saratoga County now has the highest infection rate in the region

Saratoga County now has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the Capital Region but, mysteriously, was not reported by the Centers for Disease Control’s county-level alert system .

Driven in large part by two new omicron variants, COVID-19 numbers continue to climb in the capital region. Within a week, levels rose in Saratoga County, surpassing all other counties in the region.

As of Tuesday, Saratoga had a 7-day average of 46.8 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state Department of Health. coronavirus dashboard.

The 7-day average infection rate for the eight-county area was 40 cases per 100,000 population on Tuesday — a figure already significantly higher than the state’s 7-day average of 32.50 per 100,000 population.

Albany and Schenectady counties continue to be designated by the CDC as having a high level of COVID-19 transmission despite — since Tuesday — lower infection levels than Saratoga and Schenectady counties, which are rated medium by the CDC.

Schenectady has also seen COVID-19 numbers jump this week, with a 7-day average of 42 cases per population of 100,000 on Tuesday.

It’s unclear why the CDC’s COVID-19 alert system hasn’t reported COVID-19 spikes in Saratoga and Schenectady, but it may be due to the algorithm the federal agency uses to determine if the a county’s infection level is low, medium, or high.

The CDC designation weighs infection rates as well as hospitalization rates and hospital bed capacity. Having the largest hospital systems in the region based in Albany County may impact the CDC’s determination.

The latest outbreak, which began in central New York a month ago and exploded across the state, has not resulted in sweeping changes in public policy or institutions’ COVID-19 safety protocols.

Public health agencies and hospitals say they are closely monitoring the numbers and adhering to state and federal guidelines.

There were some mild recommendations from county health departments for the elderly or immunocompromised to use precautions.

On Tuesday, the Albany County Health Department “strongly recommended” that all residents wear masks in public indoor spaces.

St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany announced this week that it is returning to a more restrictive visiting policy, allowing patients only one visitor per day during visiting hours.

At Saratoga Hospital emergency care in Wilton, workers were seen on Tuesday reassembling a drive-thru COVID-19 testing tent that had been used earlier in the pandemic.

Albany Medical Center officials said its experts make decisions about COVID-19 safety based on test positivity rates. On Tuesday, Albany had an average positivity rate of about 12.5%, which is higher than the statewide average of 7.1%.

“Once we get past 5%, our epidemiology team will make recommendations on whether or not to make any changes,” said Dennis McKenna of Albany Medical Center. in a weekly update on the hospital system’s YouTube channel.

While no changes to the hospital’s COVID-19 protocols have been announced, future adjustments may be made to masking, pre-admission or pre-procedure testing, and hospital visitor policy. , officials said.

Meanwhile, New York’s Wastewater Monitoring Program, which analyzes stool samples from 38 counties and can be used as a means of early detection of COVID-19, has nearly every county reporting data classified as having a “high probability” of transmission of COVID-19.

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