UAlbany drives a surge in local coronavirus cases

UAlbany drives a surge in local coronavirus cases

ALBANY — Another 23 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed among Albany County residents, officials reported Monday.

Seventeen are connected to the University at Albany, which has had 56 students test positive for the virus so far this semester, according to the State University of New York COVID-19 tracker. The tracker shows cases through Sunday, and a county spokeswoman confirmed that the 17 new cases reported Monday are part of the 56 shown on the tracker.

“This is now the fourth consecutive day where we’ve seen more than 20 new positive cases in the county, the majority of which have been linked back to University at Albany students,” County Executive Dan McCoy said. “We need to reverse this trend before the school is forced to shut down and this outbreak spreads beyond the campus and student housing and into the larger Albany County and Capital Region communities.”

UAlbany first announced a spike in cases late Thursday night. The county confirmed it the next day, and joined with UAlbany President Havidan Rodriguez the next day to warn that if the outbreak is not contained, in-person activities, including classes, would be shut down.

The state has warned that any college or university that sees 100 cases over a two-week period must move to remote learning for at least two weeks. So far SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Oswego have both surpassed the 100-case threshold and had in-person activities shut down in response.

McCoy said the county health department is working closely with university officials to identify and isolate positive cases and take preventive measures “with hopes the fall semester can finish the way it started.”

Community-wide testing is still available on campus by appointment only for those with or without symptoms. Appointments can be made by calling the NYS hotline at 888-364-3065 or by visiting the state Department of Health website.

Contact tracers were able to determine that 20 of the county’s new infections Monday came from individuals who had close contact with an infected person. One case was tied to a health care worker or resident of a congregate setting. Two cases could not be traced back to a source of infection.

The UAlbany spike appears to have brought the county’s daily case totals into the double digits again following a month of mostly single-digit increases. The five-day rolling average of new daily cases is now 22, up from 4.4 recorded Aug. 24, which was the first day of classes.

There are currently 128 active cases in the county, up from 109 reported Sunday. Ten residents are hospitalized, down from 11 as of Sunday.

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