HUDSON — COVID-19 numbers continue to increase in the Twin Counties as the holiday season approaches.
Columbia County has 77 active cases of COVID and 368 people who are in mandatory quarantine.
“That is a huge number to have in mandatory quarantine and is extremely difficult for my department to track on a daily basis,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said in a statement. “This is nothing like where we were back in the spring, when the virus first got rolling. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is coming and community spread is already creeping up. We’ll hit a 2% rate by December at this rate. Much of this comes from people acting irresponsibly.”
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 has to quarantine for 14 days, and anyone found to have been in close proximity to a positive person, and who could potentially have been exposed to the virus, is also required to quarantine.
A recent statement from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors noted the impact the two-week quarantine could have, not just on a person’s individual health but on someone’s finances if they, or their family members, are required to quarantine because of COVID.
Columbia County has had a total of 705 positive COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 21 county residents in the hospital because of COVID; two are in the intensive care unit.
Columbia County has recorded a total of 42 deaths as a result of COVID, according to the Department of Health. Five of those occurred in October; before that, the county had not had a COVID-related death since June 9.
Greene County has 29 active positive COVID cases, according to Greene County Public Health. Three people are in the hospital due to COVID-19.
“Our numbers have slightly gone up recently,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Tuesday. “My health department continues to test every Wednesday; we’re doing about 50 or so tests every Wednesday. That’s the number that we can handle with overnight testing. If I get more than 50 I have to go to a different lab, and then the results take five to seven days and that’s just too long.”
Since March, Greene County has had a total of 534 positive COVID cases and 19 COVID-related deaths. The county had one death in August. Before that it had not had any COVID-related deaths since May.
“It’s not so much Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday,” Groden said. “It’s typically this has been the time when college kids come home, but college schedules have changed now. They are coming home but they aren’t going to head back to school Monday morning. They are going to conclude the semester that week. I think the bigger issue is that Friday is typically Black Friday. Will people head out to the mall? I don’t think they will. I think things have changed and will continue to change for a while.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a number of things to consider when planning for holidays, such as the size, location and duration of any gatherings.
Smaller gatherings allow for better social distancing and pose less of a COVID threat than longer gatherings with more people.
The CDC also recommends looking at the location that people are coming from or going to for the holidays. The CDC says gatherings of people from the same area pose less of a threat than people who are from different places.
New York has a system in place of determining how severe COVID is in any given county based on its average percentage of positive cases.
If there is an increase in the percentage of positives that occur in a county, it can become a yellow, orange or red zone. Each color represents an increase of various restrictions for the people living in that area. Neither Columbia nor Greene County have had to be classified with a color restriction.
Based on population, Columbia County would have to have a seven-day rolling average positive rate of 3.5% for 10 days to be classified as being in a yellow, or precautionary zone. Greene County would have to have a positivity rate about 4% during that time. Columbia County has an average positivity rate of 1.4% over the past seven days. Greene County has an average positivity rate of 1.2% over the past seven days.
“We can’t become complacent,” Groden said. “We have had numbers go up recently. I think we have to continue to try and be safe. Wear your masks, don’t put yourself in jeopardy, be smart.”