Uptick in coronavirus cases in Greene, other Hudson Valley counties

Uptick in coronavirus cases in Greene, other Hudson Valley counties


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In recent weeks Greene County’s public health department had no positive COVID-19 cases to report. Not anymore.

Mirroring a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases, the Catskills county is experiencing a 2 percent 7-day average COVID-19 positivity rate, the highest in the Hudson Valley, with Columbia County close behind at 1.7 percent and 14 active cases as of Tuesday. Both counties are part of the Capital Region, too, which is experiencing the highest regional positivity rate in the state.

The spike is not limited to the Albany area though. Dutchess County health officials sent a press release on Tuesday noting 9 new cases in one day. The multiple confirmed cases were believed to be related to a party at a home in the Town of Red Hook. Sullivan County is reporting 17 active cases after a low of 6 on July 1.

Unlike most counties seeing an uptick in cases, Greene County also has a lower-than-average, 49 percent full vaccination rate. It is one of the lowest rates among other Hudson Valley counties, and 7 points lower than New York state’s fully vaccinated rate of 56 percent.

Groden attributes the lower rate in Greene County to some residents’ unwillingness to get vaccinated, rather than a lack of access to the vaccine.

“I don’t understand why people aren’t getting vaccinated. I wish I could better understand it, because it would give me a better shot at combating it,” said Groden, adding that the best way to guard against COVID-19 is getting vaccinated. Barring that, he cautioned that mask-wearing and social distancing should still be observed by those who are not vaccinated.

The Greene County health department does not have data on whether the cases are caused by variants such as delta, which now accounts for more than half of all COVID cases in the U.S. It is also unclear if any can be attributed to so-called “breakthrough cases” of COVID among fully vaccinated people.   

Nearly all health officials agree, however, that the majority of these new cases is among the unvaccinated.

“If you’re reading the national media,” said Groden, “the uptick is among unvaccinated people.”

With the new school year around the corner, the county is gearing up to get students back safely. Two federal grants worth a combined $1.5 million, drawn from $10 billion earmarked for school COVID testing in President Biden’s COVID relief plan, will be used to routinely test students and staff when the school year begins, said Groden.

Internally the Greene County health department is also discussing resuming Point of Delivery, or POD, vaccination sites, which it discontinued in May, encouraging residents to receive vaccinations from pharmacies and primary physicians instead.

“You gotta reach heard immunity,” Groden reiterated. “That’s the only way we beat this thing.”

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