ALBANY — As some 400 people associated with Farnsworth Middle School are ready to come out of precautionary quarantine, county officials are urging people to pay less attention to testing numbers and conduct themselves like everyone has COVID-19.
“We know about 80 percent of people who contract COVID-19 will have a mild to moderate illness, a flu-like illness, and there is a percentage who are asymptomatic so we are not capturing the numbers of actual people who are infected at this stage,” said Dr. Elizabeth Whalen, head of the Albany County Health Department. “If you are one of the few people who has an asymptomatic case, it may go well for you, but if you infect someone else it may not go well for them.”
As of Wednesday, there are 142 confirmed cases in Albany County with 557 people under mandatory quarantine. On Tuesday, there were 662 under precautionary quarantine but that number will be reduced by some 400 as a “large cohort” of people associated with Farnsworth have spent their two weeks in presumed isolation as of Thursday.
None of the 400 tested positive, said County Executive Dan McCoy during his daily press briefing.
Of the 142 positive cases in Albany County, 11 are hospitalized with four in the ICU. The hospitalization rate is about 7 percent.
Statewide, there are 30,811 confirmed cases, a jump of about 4,000 from Tuesday. The vast majority of those, 17,800, are in New York City, with 4,691 in Westchester County, 3,285 in Nassau County and 2,260 in Suffolk County.
Of those, there are 3,805 hospitalized, or about 12 percent, with 888 in ICU, or about 3 percent, the vast majority of which are older or people with underlying illnesses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, during his daily briefing, an ICU unit during the pandemic is any hospital bed with a ventilator.
There have been 285 deaths statewide.
Officials have said the more testing will result in more positive results and the state has conducted more tests than any other in the nation and, on a per capita basis, more than any other country.
Hospitals have stopped community testing, but hospitals across the state are testing patients who are admitted with COVID-19 symptoms — a fever, cough and shortness of breath — and health care workers who may have been exposed.
In Albany County there have been 2,885 tests conducted with about 5 percent coming back positive. There are 37 confirmed cases in Rensselaer County as of Wednesday and 67 in Saratoga County as of Tuesday.
Cuomo said New York has 10 times more cases than the next nearest state — New Jersey with 3,675 — because New York City sees more people from across the globe and has more international travelers than other states and because the city’s population is more dense than most other places in the country.
McCoy reiterated people should abide by the same protocols, despite the relatively small increase in testing numbers, which is expected to get still smaller as fewer people are tested.
“We are lobbying for more tests but for right now they are reserved for people who need to be testing. Just because you have a sniffle doesn’t mean you need testing,” he said. “Think about other people. There are still a lot of cars out there. This is not a vacation for you to sit home at work and go out and enjoy yourself. I am talking about the foolish people who walk down the street in groups, and continue to have house parties and continue to drive around.”