COVID uptick worries health officials

A 106th Columbia County resident has died from COVID-19.

HUDSON — An unvaccinated Columbia County man under 40-years-old has died from COVID-19, showing the pandemic is maintaining its grip on the area.

The Columbia County Department of Health marked the 104th death since the beginning of the pandemic Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s tragic, he had comorbidities, and his parents didn’t think that he should get the shot because of the comorbidities,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said. “A lot of doctors would say, get the shot. It just continues the same story that we’ve seen with unvaccinated people.”

The latest death is the second to occur in the county this month. The previous death had been reported by the department of health Oct. 7. As of Tuesday afternoon the county had 288 new COVID-19 cases this month.

“I think it’s interesting, I watch the other counties around us and we’re all experiencing numbers that aren’t going down,” Mabb said. “This past week I think was the highest by, I think, just a few positives, that we’ve had all month long. It’s not relenting, it’s not going down. A lot of it is schools, a lot of it is kids.”

The state COVID report card tracker includes numerical data about the positive cases found in school districts throughout the state. According to the tracker since the beginning of the school year; New Lebanon Central School District has had two students and one staff member test positive, Germantown Central School District has had six students and two staff members test positive, Chatham Central School District has had 17 students and two staff members test positive, Hudson City School District has had 14 students, three teachers and two staff members test positive, Taconic Hills Central School District has had 16 students, three teachers and eight staff members, and at Ichabod Crane Central School District, 77 students, four teachers and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to these numbers, the six school districts in the county have reported 132 students tested positive since the beginning of the school year. The Department of Health reported 757 new positive cases since the beginning of September, which means 17.4% of the new cases in the county over the past two months have been students in the districts.

The Department of Health meets weekly with school superintendents in the county. They are in the process of setting up pods at the schools.

“Based on what we know right now as far as the approval process, we’re looking at the week of the 15th (of November) to do these PODS in schools,” Mabb said. “It’s a Pfizer shot, and that gets us done with their second shot by Christmas, so these kids would be fully vaccinated, which is really great going into the holidays.”

Tuesday night Pfizer announced the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted in favor of granting emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine for children five-to-11 years-old. The committee voted 17-0 in favor of granting emergency authorization with one abstention. According to the announcement from Pfizer the FDA is expected to make its decision in the coming days. If authorized and then recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will be the first COVID-19 vaccine available for use in children five-to-11.

The county department of health is holding PODS for booster shots Thursday and Friday. Registration for the booster pods can be found on the county department of health website. Mabb said as of Tuesday morning, 250 people had signed up to receive a booster shot at the Thursday night POD which takes place from 4-7p.m. and 150 people had signed up so far for the POD Friday morning which takes place from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 114 people signed up so far for the Friday afternoon POD which takes place from 1-3p.m. Mabb said there are still spaces available at each of the PODS.

New York state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for people who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible to receive a booster shot after six or more months after they have completed their initial shot series if they are 65 or older, or 18 and older if they reside in a long-term care facility, have underlying medical conditions or work or live in high-risk settings.

The shots being given at these PODS will be the Moderna shot, but anyone who is eligible to receive a booster shot can receive the Moderna shot regardless of if they had received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer previously.

“If you look at the efficacy of getting a Pfizer shot on top of J&J or getting a Moderna shot on top of J&J, it looks like Moderna is a little bit more powerful,” Mabb said. “So I would suspect some of the J&J people to get Moderna now.”

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