‘The next wave has started.’ Capital Region breaks as COVID-19 increases

ALBANY – The second wave of coronovirus infections, hospitals and deaths is well in the Capital Region. But will it be as bad as before?

If one thing public health experts and hospital leaders don’t like, it predicts the future – especially when a lot of it hangs over the behavior of a tired public and a virus, about which we still don’t get enough Know. But he hoped that the public’s vigilance, along with the region’s greatly expanded testing and tracing capabilities, would help shield us from the worst that could come.

“I expect about the next few months to be based on how the surgery happened during this month,” said Eli Rosenberg, associate professor of epidemiology and biology at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. “I think it’s really about testing. In March, the virus flew down this scary exponential slope. Suddenly it was a runaway thing and it was so mysterious. Now that it’s less mysterious, we now have There is testing and we have tracing, we can react in an intelligent way. ”

Signs of a second wave

The capital region is brought to the second wave by almost every metric.

New daily cases have increased significantly in eight local counties, with only 17 cases expected to reach the peak of the spring of 147 new cases in the region, a May 1 Times Union analysis of local county data shows. The region has recorded 100 new daily cases only four times this year – three of which occurred this month.

The five-day rolling average of new daily cases in the region – a more forgiving metric that takes into account sporadic jumps and anomalies – reached its highest point since spring on Monday, with 78 average cases. The average reached 117 on 2 May and peaked at 13 on 17 June.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, the percentage of positive tests conducted on residents in the region has climbed from 0.5 to 26 October to 1.3 to 26 October. This metric may be a less reliable indicator, however, depending on test capability at any given time, with double testing of required workers taking place.

Most have been hospitalized recently related to local authorities. According to data published by the state, daily hospitals in the region have increased more than 400 percent over the previous month, from 15 September to 27 October, from 27 to 80. Leaders of hospitals in the Capital Region on Wednesday warned Albany Medical Center to rise, and urged the public to be vaccinated against the flu and to be vigilant about mask use, distancing and hand hygiene.

“It seems like to us, the next wave has started,” said Dr. Fred Wendity, director general of the hospital at Albany Medical Center.

There is a glimpse of good news. Wendity and other hospital officials say that while the cases are increasing, their severity is decreasing.

The Chief Clinical Officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners, Drs. Steven Hanks told the Times Union, “What’s interesting is that we’re seeing very different results for patients being hospitalized now in the spring.” “The death rate seems to be very low. The number of hospitalized patients attending ICU is less than in spring. The number of patients who need to be ventilated is less than in the spring. And the number of patients dying with COVID-19 is lower than in spring. ”

The reasons for this are not clear, although officials have some ideas. Hanks and Venditti said that when and in which combination doctors gave patients therapy to give the best results. There is also a theory that the use of masks can protect those who are exposed to small viral doses from the virus as they would have otherwise.

“It’s all conjecture,” Hanks said. “But these are all things that we’re considering, including possibly a change in the virus because the virus mutates in the wild. So that’s a good part of the story. The bad news is that the virus continues to spread.”

While the death toll is falling, deaths have increased in recent weeks. The region saw a wave of deaths in the first three months of the epidemic, and then sporadically in summer. Months passed without seeing some counties. In recent weeks, however, those streaks have come to an end. As of Tuesday, at least 360 residents of the eight-county capital region had died of the virus.

‘COVID fatigue is real’

Initially, public health experts and epidemiologists around the world warned that, like the Spanish flu of 1918, the coronavirus epidemic would be in waves – hitting hard in the cold months and dying down in summer. This has generally been true for New York and the Capital Region, although the United States experienced a second wave outside the Northeast this summer and is now entering its third wave.

The reason for this is that the virus is an easy time to propagate only on dry, cool air. Another reason is that people spend more time indoors when the weather is cold, and the infected person has fewer places to escape the virus.

Unfortunately, officials fear that a confluence of other factors will cause an increase this winter. Public health officials say that people have ended the epidemic due to stress and isolation and a type of “COVID fatigue” has increased leading to increased socialization and decreased vigilance.

“COVID fatigue is real,” Rosenberg said. It is fatigue on many levels – individuals let their guard down, go over the family, as the cold weather thinks, ‘Oh, I can’t eat on the street in restaurants. Try indoors for some time. ‘It’s all real. ”

While they could count on people staying away from loved ones in the spring when the virus was new and lockdowns were novel, officials are now worried that the impending holiday season and the return of college students from potential hot spots are going to fuel . A new increase of cases in the worst of times.

Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whelan said people were already adding the reopening of schools and businesses as a green light to epidemic practices.

“People were saying that this meant they could do other things, such as attending parties and socializing in groups and maybe in terms of wearing masks and keeping socially distance and avoiding big gatherings Lower your guard, ”he said. “But the latter three strategies are more important than ever and what people need to understand is the ability for us to keep businesses running and schools open that are completely dependent on those behaviors.”

Whelan and other health officials, who spoke to the Times Union, agreed that people should try to avoid a holiday with family and friends outside their home this year.

“I know it’s hard,” he said. “But I think it’s a different year and I think people need to consider that in their planning. Because the last thing we want is to bring families together for a holiday that is It is about celebrating the things for which we are grateful and resulting in a case or a loved one being ill.

Two round preparation

Although local health officials expect the second wave to not be as big as the first, they are preparing for potential competitions in the coming months.

Hospital leaders on Wednesday urged the public to be vigilant about basic precautions such as fighting fatigue and washing hands and going out in public. He also urged people to get vaccinated against influenza – a move that would help evacuate people from the hospital if COVID-19 increases. Local hospitals also announced that they would mandate all employees who would be vaccinated for the flu at private physician practices, with exemptions for medical and religious reasons. He said the region should affect about 35,000 health care workers.

“We don’t know where that curve is going to go,” said Dr. David Labers, an infectious disease specialist at Ellis Medicine. “The more we do it regularly, the better it is. It can be a hard winter but we can make it a better winter for everything we’ve done so far.”

Wendy mentioned that Albany Med has spent the summer through its Emergency Response Plan and adjusted where appropriate. The plan to increase is that hospitals developed in the spring remain on file with the state. And hospitals have manufactured the government’s 90-day supply. They have also started to disinfect single-use PPE for reuse – a practice used back in the spring to conserve supplies but nurses have resisted, arguing that they put them at risk.

“We’re definitely trying to be cautious with our use of PPE,” Wendy said. “Having said that, we are only doing what has been approved by the (Center for Disease Control) or the Department of Health in terms of reuse … We are trying to take care of that on the road Two months down, one month down the road, we may be in a different situation with limited supply. ”

As 2020 draws to a close, hospitals have also filed applications with the state to administer any COVID-19 vaccine that is expected to hit the market in January 2021 for essential workers and the rest of the population by spring.

Until then, individuals have an important role in keeping their communities safe, Valen said.

“If people are not obedient and if people keep acting like it’s a hoax or it doesn’t exist or they don’t like wearing masks, then you know, yeah, we’re going for (another one) Are, “he said. “I sincerely hope that will not pass.”

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