Fearing setback, county warns of COVID spike

Eleven new COVID-19 cases were reported in Columbia County over the past 10 days. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

HUDSON — Younger people testing positive in Columbia County for COVID could be linked to lower vaccine rates.

The county Department of Health reported three new positive COVID-19 cases, the first the county has had since one new case was reported four days ago. Two of the three positives were unvaccinated young people. The positives were found in a third-grader, an 18-year-old and a 60-year-old.

“It’s interesting that a third grader, an 18-year-old and a 60-year-old and the only one vaccinated, obviously the third-grader can’t be, but the only one vaccinated was the 60-year old,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said.

The three were all community members, not residents of any care or assisted living facilities or group homes, Mabb said. The 60-year-old who had been vaccinated received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Another unvaccinated 18-year-old tested positive for the virus a week earlier, Mabb said.

“We did a study, if you will, of the month of April, and the average age of our positives was 37,” Mabb said.

Vaccinations play an important role in determining whether a person can still get the virus, Mabb said. A large number of young people are not getting vaccinated.

“The last numbers I saw among the 18-to-35-year-olds were like 33% vaccinated,” Mabb said. “So absolutely they’re not getting vaccinated anywhere near the numbers of other groups. The last CDC numbers I looked at we had 85% of our seniors had at least one shot and 80% had both. So that group is taking this thing very seriously, and jumped on it very early obviously because they were able to, but these younger folks are just not getting vaccinated.”

Children younger than 12 are not eligible for any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The Department of Health reported Tuesday afternoon that 26 county residents are in mandatory quarantine and no county residents are hospitalized. Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 4,266 positive COVID-19 cases in Columbia County. About 60% of all Columbia County residents have received at least one shot of the vaccine.

The New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker reports in Columbia County 35,902 residents have received at least a first dose of the vaccine and 33,277 county residents have completed their vaccination series. Statewide, 11.5 million people in New York have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 10.5 million have received their complete COVID-19 vaccination.

A rising concern throughout the nation is the Delta variant of COVID-19. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said the Delta variant was first reported in the United States in March 2021, three months after its discovery in India in December 2020. Delta is the most common variant in the United States.

Columbia County has not received any notifications of any of the county’s positive COVID tests being from the Delta variant, Mabb said. Wadsworth Center, which analyzes test samples, randomly screens some of the positive tests for different COVID-19 variants.

The Delta variant has not been found in any of the random testing from Wadsworth, Mabb said.

Mabb said when one of the other variants was found in a test that came from Columbia County, Wadsworth informed the Department of Health. None of the other Capital Region departments of health have reported the Delta variant being found in their respective counties.

“I do think that there is a lot less testing going on,” Mabb said. “Some of that is about people just going about their business, and having what they think are colds, and not getting tested. It’s not necessarily reflective of the fact that the Delta variant is not here. There’s just a lot less testing going on.”

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