Despite New York updating its guidance to allow the return of high-risk sports, Albany County officials say not to expect them to resume in the county right away.
County Executive Dan McCoy said in a press briefing Wednesday morning that "you're not going to get the green light February 1" in accordance with the new guidance, due to the county's seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases not meeting criteria.
"There's going to be a lot of protocols that are in place, and we're not there under this matrix," McCoy said, noting that the average needs to settle under the 5-percent mark in order to allow for the return in the county. "We're going down the slope again, but it's gonna take time."
McCoy said he's working with neighboring county executives in the Capital Region on a group plan, while taking guidance from health commissioners and the Centers for Disease Control while also watching the average on a daily basis.
In the last day, Albany County saw 192 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported, and three more deaths. While cases have subsided somewhat in recent weeks following a post-holiday surge, the county's death toll since the start of the pandemic is now at 302.
The case drop has given County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen cautious optimism, but she's still concerned about hospitalization rates in Albany County.
"As you know, our rolling average for number of cases this week is decreasing a little, and we are following the numbers very closely," Whalen said. It takes a long time for me to be able to convey the information that our rates are decreasing ... but I can not say at this time that our rates of disease are decreasing, because that needs to be a trend over a longer period of time.
"We have to really watch what's happening right now and continue to act with an abundance of caution."
McCoy noted that, with the population density of the Capital Region, it will take time for everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He also said that people must allow the most vulnerable among them to be the first vaccinated, abiding by New York's vaccination priority groups.
"It's gonna take time, and people have to be patient and they have to wait their turn," McCoy said. "People that are butting the line and not waiting their turn are selfish. Let the vaccine get to the people it needs to get to first."
McCoy, as he often does, stressed following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines, and said residents should check the state website regarding their eligibility for the vaccine.