HUDSON — The number of active COVID cases in Columbia County has nearly doubled in the past week.
Clusters of COVID cases at Ghent Assisted Living and at the Brookwood and Columbia Girls secure centers brought the number of active cases from 22 on Oct. 15 to 40 as of Oct. 22.
“This is yet another reminder that no one knows where this virus may be lingering. Our only defense remains to wear a mask, social distance and wash our hands,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said Friday.
The 40 active positives in Columbia County is the highest number since June, according to Health Department records.
At Ghent Assisted Living, 27 residents and nine staff members have tested positive since the beginning of last week, Mabb said in a statement. Prior to the recent cases at Ghent Assisted Living, the facility did not have any positive cases earlier in the pandemic.
Brookwood Secure Center in Claverack has two staff members who live in Columbia County who have tested positive for COVID-19. None of the facility’s residents have tested positive. The Columbia Girls Secure Center has reported three youth residents and four staff members from Columbia County who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The facilities also reported 10 additional staff members who have tested positive who live outside Columbia County. They are from Greene, Albany, Schenectady and Fulton counties, Mabb said.
“My concern in this situation is not only for those who reside and work in these facilities, but for what it could ultimately mean in terms of possibly causing more wide-ranging community spread,” Mabb said. “Not only does this outbreak involve county residents, but there are also a significant number of out-of-county residents who have tested positive who went home at the end of their workday. They stopped by the gas station, pharmacy and the grocery store. They could very well have been contagious before they were actually tested. This is how the virus gets into the community.”
Columbia County has had 636 positive COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Health Department. Nine county residents are hospitalized because of COVID. One is in the intensive care unit.
The state’s Percentage Positive Dashboard reports that as of Thursday, Columbia County has an infection rate of 1.1%. Greene County has an infection rate of 2.1%. Statewide the average positivity rate is 1.6%. New York has a system detailing COVID clusters and how severe the COVID issue is in a given area. Columbia County is considered a Tier-3 county based on its population. For the county to be considered a yellow, or precautionary zone, by the state it would have to average a positivity rate above 3.5% for 10 days.
Greene County is considered a Tier-4 county. It would have to average a positive percentage rate of 4% or higher for 10 days to be designated a yellow COVID zone.
In areas that are considered yellow zones, the state may restrict some activities to prevent further spread.
Areas that have more serious COVID infection rates than yellow zones would be considered orange zones. Red zones are considered by the state to be more severe microcluster zones.
The Columbia County Department of Health will host COVID-19 testing clinics at the former John L. Edwards Primary School in Hudson. The clinics will be from 9-11 a.m. Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. Preregistration is not required for the clinics.
Each clinic is limited to 100 people. Photo ID is required for a test and masks are necessary when attending a clinic.