Grim milestone: County sees 500th COVID death

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The number of positive COVID cases continues to decline in Albany County and statewide, even as the county recorded its 500th virus death Thursday. Contributed photo

ALBANY — The county passed a grim milestone Thursday when the 500th resident died from COVID-19.

The latest death was a man in his 80s.

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy made the announcement Jan. 27.

“It saddens me to have to report another Albany County resident losing their life to COVID. This is now the 500th death in the county since the pandemic started, and it unfortunately won’t be the last,” McCoy said. “While we see progress in our fight in some areas, we need to continue doing what we can to protect our most vulnerable from the virus, which is still spreading.”

After a major spike in the number of COVID cases in the county after the holiday season, largely due to the nationwide spread of the Omicron variant, the county’s caseload has been on the decline.

Compared to Wednesday, there were 342 new cases of the virus in Albany County, McCoy said Thursday. Earlier in January, there had been multiple days of 1,000 or more new daily cases.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, there have been 58,465 positive virus cases in the county.

The county’s post-holiday spike in cases followed by the more recent decline in positive test results mirror a trend statewide.

This week alone, the Capital Region saw a daily decline in the seven-day average number of cases per 100,000 population, from 118.9 Monday to 117 Tuesday and then a drop to 106.6 Wednesday, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

The positivity rate of those tested also declined in the region from 12.48% Monday to 12.2% Tuesday and 11.2% Wednesday.

The recent spike in cases since December is due to the rise of the Omicron variant, which has now become the dominant variant. Omicron now represents more than 95% of the virus cases in circulation, according to the governor’s office.

In the Capital Region, which includes eight counties, there were 390 residents hospitalized who had tested positive for the virus, according to data released by the governor’s office Thursday. Of those, 69% were admitted due to COVID or COVID complications, with 31% admitted to the hospital with a positive virus test but where COVID was not stated as one of the reasons for admission, according to the governor’s office.

While the number of virus cases statewide has been declining, Hochul urged New Yorkers not to get complacent.

“I want to thank New Yorkers for doing their part to help fight the winter surge and keep our loved ones safe, but let’s not take our progress for granted,” Hochul said. “Keeping our friends, loved ones and fellow New Yorkers safe and healthy is a team effort. We know what works — get vaccinated if you haven’t yet, get the booster if you have, and if you’ve done both make sure your friends and family do as well.”

Statewide, the seven-day average of cases has declined in all regions as of Thursday, and the number of hospitalizations dropped by nearly 600 in a 24-hour period, Hochul said.

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