CATSKILL — The number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in Greene County and is the highest since before vaccines became widely available.
There were 142 active positive cases in the county as of Wednesday, according to Greene County Public Health.
The last time there were more active infections in the county was Feb. 1, when there were 147, according to Public Health data.
Officials say there is no single specific cause for the recent spike other than the rapid rise of the highly contagious delta variant.
“We haven’t had a superspreader event that I know of,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s because schools are open, but I am not aware of any big school outbreaks. There are no outbreaks in nursing homes.”
Two elementary school students and an employee in the high school in the Catskill district have tested positive for the virus, District Superintendent Ronel Cook announced Sept. 22 on the district website. One of the affected students was last at the school Sept. 17, and the other student and employee were at school Sept. 20, Cook said.
“No additional quarantining resulting from contact within the school setting was required for either case,” Cook said.
The majority of infections in the county remain among unvaccinated individuals.
“If it continues to be the unvaccinated who are the cause of the uptick, it’s because the delta variant is much more efficient in transmission — it is much easier to pass,” Groden said. “It is different from a year ago when it was the original strain. Now we have the variant, which should give people more cause to be vaccinated.”
After the number of active cases dropped to zero for a couple of days in early June, rates have been rising steadily in Greene County, reaching 100 for the first time in several months on Sept. 16.
Infections continue to spike.
“We picked up 22 new cases yesterday and 10 this morning,” Groden said Thursday.
Greene County has the lowest vaccination rate against COVID-19 of all eight counties in the Capital Region, with 58.7% of all county residents and 66.7% of county adults with at least one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the state COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.
The eight counties in the Capital Region include Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.
Unvaccinated county residents account for three-quarters of the new infections and the vast majority of hospitalizations due to the virus.
“It’s just the general population. Seventy-five percent of the new positives are unvaccinated people,” Groden said. “My Public Health Department calls it community spread — normal contact, normal activity, but afflicting mostly the unvaccinated. What does that tell us? Get vaccinated.”
The county had the highest number of active infections this year on Jan. 7, when there were 400 cases, according to Public Health.
County officials do not have plans for future PODs, or points of distribution, where vaccines would be administered, but area pharmacies have ample inventory of the vaccine, Groden said.
“You can walk into your pharmacy right now and get vaccinated,” he said.
There have been 3,915 COVID-19 infections in Greene County since the beginning of the outbreak in March 2020 and 79 residents have died.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate in the county stands at 5.7%, with 274 residents in quarantine, according to Public Health.