1st deaths of vaccinated people confirmed in Columbia

Two Columbia County residents died related to COVID-19.

HUDSON — Two residents became the first vaccinated people in Columbia County to die from COVID since the start of the pandemic in 2020, health officials said.

“We had two deaths within the last 12 hours,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said. “Both of them were seniors, both of them vaccinated, but both of them had a lot of comorbidities.”

The two people were individuals who were unrelated and from different households, Mabb said. One was related to a previous recent death in the county.

The latest deaths bring the total number in Columbia County to 108 since the beginning of the pandemic. The Department of Health reported five deaths in September, two in October, two in November.

Breakthrough cases, positive COVID-19 cases involving an individual who has been fully vaccinated, make up about 50% of the positive cases in Columbia County, Mabb said. In general people who are vaccinated and do get COVID have it less severely than those who are not vaccinated.

The county reported 46 new positives between Sunday and Monday this week, 61 Tuesday and 31 Wednesday morning.

“We kind of saw it coming,” Mabb said. “To some degree we’re a little relieved that we got 31 today, which is still a pretty high number, it’s early in the day. When I came in the door today at 8:15 we were testing already. We have been testing people who have been exposed to positives who have symptoms, so I expect today’s number to be high, and it is anticipated bump-up that we saw coming with Thanksgiving.”

Several people who are recent positive cases have said they attended Thanksgiving gatherings last week. In one instance, Mabb said, an individual who said he felt sick last Wednesday, and thought he should be tested, decided not to be because he did not want it to ruin his Thanksgiving, and went to his family’s Thanksgiving, and then tested positive Friday.

“So he definitely went there and exposed everybody to the virus,” Mabb said. “Its irresponsible, but I understand at some level, yes it infuriates me, because its irresponsible, but people are desperate to get together, they are desperate to have some sense of normal, and we just can’t. This is not normal times. If you have symptoms you shouldn’t be going to these things.”

It is likely recent positive cases are the delta variant because of its contagious nature Mabb said.

The daily numbers of positive new cases the week after Thanksgiving last year were all under 25 according to DOH records. Mabb said it is hard to compare last year’s numbers to this year because at this time last year people were not yet vaccinated.

“By sheer number I think this is pretty bad compared to last year,” Mabb said. “But I think its also, with the numbers of people vaccinated it keeps people out of the hospital, although we have 10 people in the hospital now.”

There is likely to be another bump in cases through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays Mabb said. He explained Christmas is not only celebrated on the 25th, and a lot of people visit families and friends the day before, or attend work holiday parties and other group gatherings and celebrations throughout the month.

“I think the bump will be more prolonged,” Mabb said. “And given the connection to New Year’s we’re just going to see quite a spike.”

COVID-19 booster pods hosted by the Department of Health have been filling up and more appointment slots have been added. Mabb said there has been a real interest from people to get their booster shots among the 18-and-up age group.

“As quickly as these filled up, its kind of reminiscent of things back when things were crazy for us back in Jan. Feb. March,” Mabb said. “So I think there’s real interest out there.”

Appointments can be made for booster pods through the Columbia County Department of Health website.

As of Tuesday afternoon the Columbia County Department of Health has had a total of 6,107 positive cases. There are currently 116 active cases and 203 county residents in mandatory quarantine.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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