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Majority of virus victims are nursing home residents; County looks for accurate tests


HUDSON—Twenty-two people in Columbia County have died of the coronavirus as of May 11 at 3 p.m., according to the Columbia County Department of Health (DOH).

Of that total, five people were “community deaths, 10 were residents of Pine Haven, and 7 were residents of The Grand at Barnwell.”

There have been 326 positive cases of Covid-19 in the county; 133 of the 326 cases have recovered from the virus; 4 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 1 of those hospitalized is in the ICU. The DOH has received 2,449 completed test results for Columbia County residents; 180 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 11 under precautionary quarantine.

The county’s next order of testing kits is on hold, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell said in the county’s May 11 coronavirus update press release.

“Over the past few days, I’ve heard from some residents asking why the county has not yet ordered another round of Covid-19 testing kits,” Chairman Murell said.

Recently, different medical facilities and pharmacies have begun to expand onsite testing. “These are most often tests involving a blood draw and are billed through insurance or otherwise require a payment on the part of the individual,” he said.

“Testing that involves a blood draw is known as being far more reliable and accurate than that which can currently be achieved through a testing kit. The reason we have not yet ordered antibody test kits is because of the accuracy issues. As a county, we do not have the ability to conduct tests involving a blood draw,” the chairman said in the release.

County DOH is working to identify testing kits that meet the standards that will yield consistent, solid results and have received the go-ahead under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

“Many individuals from the county have contributed hard-earned dollars toward the purchase of the testing kits, and for the county to spend that money in a reckless fashion would not represent a good use of those funds.

“We will be ordering more kits when the county Department of Health is satisfied the right test for us is available,” he said.

What will happen May 15?

“Just because we hit May 15, the latest deadline set by the state’s NY ON PAUSE plan, it doesn’t mean that businesses can simply open their doors and resume business as usual,” Chairman Murell said in the Monday release.

The Capital District Region, of which Columbia County is a part, must still meet the metrics set forth by the governor in order to begin business activity under Phase One of the plan. “We have to follow the Executive Order or there will be penalties. As much as we might look forward to businesses being allowed to open, Columbia County cannot go it alone,” Chairman Murell said.

Anyone who wants to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, face shields, and gowns, are advised to contact the Emergency Management Office at 518-828-1212. If there is no answer, leave a message and someone will return the call.

Food donations should be directed to the county Office for the Aging 518-828-4258 and local pantries.

Monetary donations for the purchase of much-needed equipment for emergency responders, medical personnel and others on the front lines of the coronavirus fight can be sent via check in care of Columbia County, with coronavirus noted in the memo field. Mail the check to the Columbia County Controller’s Office, 401 State Street, Hudson 12534. All money received is being placed in a dedicated account.

A hotline has been established for the elderly and vulnerable in the county, including those with medical conditions or who are disabled and would welcome a deputy checking on their well-being on a daily basis. The number for the hotline is 518-828-0601 X 1400.

For the most up-to-date, accurate information visit the County Department of Health’s website at or their Facebook page at The state’s coronavirus website, with up-to-the-minute information, can be found at

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