The Covid-19 news just keeps getting worse here in Ulster County.
As the county set yet another record for active cases, jumping from 1044 yesterday to 1142 today, now well above the previous high mark of 1009 set April 26, it also saw a 50 percent increase in hospitalizations in two days, from 8 to 12. In addition, the percentage of positive tests was 7.2 percent, up from an average of around 1 percent throughout the summer and early fall.
In his Covid-19 update this afternoon, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan called the last two days the “single worst 48-hour period since the beginning of the pandemic by pretty much all measures” and warned that “if we don’t’ start to flatten this curve, this is going to be a very long, a very dark, and a very difficult winter.”
Ryan said the latest numbers don’t include an expected surge in cases from gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday last week, so it is likely the caseload will continue to rise in the coming days.
The second wave is now clearly worse that the first wave, said Ryan. Fatigue over mask-wearing, social-distancing, desire to return to normal activities and socialization are all factors, and the knowledge that a vaccine is being rolled out soon are all factors driving the increase, said the county executive. Ryan once again pleaded for residents to adopt the mindset they had in the spring and stay home whenever possible, avoid in-person socialization, wear masks, wash hands, and treat every person as potentially infected but asymptomatic.
“It is easy for all of us to feel powerless, to feel our spirits dip, and say, well what can we do?” said the executive. “It almost seems like this is out of our hands. It very much is still in our hands, in terms of how quickly we can flatten this curve, and ultimately how high the peak goes.”
Ryan said the county is working to increase testing capacity, add more staff for contact tracing, and readying for speedy vaccine distribution as limited doses become available later this month, with priority going to health-care workers.
No new restrictions were announced. The county hasn’t yet been deemed a “yellow zone” under the governor’s criteria, which carries restrictions on capacity but leaves all types of businesses and schools open, but it is headed in that direction. A key requirement is 10 consecutive days with a rolling 7-day positivity average of greater than 3 percent. Today, Ulster has been above 3 percent for a week and above 4 percent for four days. If it hits 10 days at above 4 percent, the county will be deemed an orange zone and a host of restrictions will kick in, including no indoor dining and closures of gyms and other “non-essential” businesses.
Ulster has a total cumulative caseload since spring of 3,718. Of that, 2,475 have recovered, 101 have died, and 1142 are still actively infected.
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