County Executive McCoy Provides an Update on the COVID-19 Response in Albany County
Discusses County’s Stable Financial Outlook in Wake of Pandemic & Lost Sales Tax Revenues
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced today that as of this morning, there have been 1,819 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County to date, an increase of 6 since yesterday. Additionally, there are now 458 people under mandatory quarantine and 5 people under precautionary quarantine. The five-day average for new daily positive cases is now at 5.4. So far, 5,158 individuals have completed quarantine, with 1,567 of them having tested positive and recovered. The recovery rate for the county now stands at 86.14%.
Of the 78 individuals who got tested at the Capital South Campus mobile testing site last week that was open to first responders and protesters, all were negative except 5 or 6, which do not have results yet. Unfortunately, a county resident passed away overnight due to the virus – a woman in her 90’s with multiple underlying health conditions. That brings the death toll to 118 since the outbreak began. There are currently 11 individuals hospitalized, bringing the hospitalization rate to 0.6%, which is down slightly from 0.71% yesterday. There are still no individuals currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The County Executive brought in Albany County Comptroller Susan Rizzo and County Department of Management and Budget Commissioner Shawn Thelen for the briefing to discuss the county’s finances, its bond rating and the overall outlook ahead of this year’s budget season.
"Despite the failure of the federal government to send any direct aid to smaller localities like Albany County who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis and have been completely devastated from lost sales tax revenues, which represents nearly 40% of our budget, I’m proud to see we’ve been able to maintain our AA bond rating. This couldn’t have been done without the incredible partnership between my office, our budget staff and the Comptroller," said County Executive McCoy.
"While I hold out hope that Washington will do what’s right, I’m proud to have had built up our reserves over the years to a historic high of over $60 million that will soften the blow of this situation amid the economic downturn. This type of fiscal responsibility is what our taxpayers expect that will ensure we can maintain many of the programs and services hardworking families rely on and will be critical for our economic recovery," he continued.
According to Commissioner Thelen, Albany County’s sales tax revenue was down 1 - 2% from last year in the first quarter, sales tax being the single largest revenue source of the county’s budget. The county’s S&P Global bond rating remained at AA with a "stable outlook" in part, thanks to Comptroller Rizzo’s refinancing of $7.2 million of the county’s outstanding debt issued in 2012 that will save county taxpayers over $1 million by reducing the interest rate down to 0.59% from the original rate of 2.3%. This, along with other refinancing opportunities that have improved the county’s financial outlook, comes at a time when many municipalities have had their ratings downgraded due to the ongoing pandemic. The Comptroller has also identified an additional $10 million to transfer to debt reserve to pay down existing debt.
During the briefing, County Executive McCoy took time to thank General Shields and the New York National Guard for their partnership with the Albany County Veterans Service Bureau that allowed them to deliver more than 5,600 of food to those placed under quarantine. Between March 31 and June 5, more than 1,500 individual households received a delivery with 35 to 50 pounds of food in each box donated by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
County Executive McCoy continues to highlight the testing site in Albany County at Priority 1 Urgent Care, which is now also providing antibody testing, located in Hamilton Square at 2080 Western Avenue in Guilderland. The partnership was made possible by Albany County supplying the facility with critical personal protective equipment for the staff and supplemental test kits. Testing will be reimbursed by an individual’s health insurance, and will be done by appointments only after patients come in to be screened for expanded CDC symptoms. Priority 1 is also now doing antibody testing. To schedule an appointment, you can call (518) 867-8040.
County Executive McCoy also encouraged those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to register for the drive-thru community testing site at Rite Aid, 1863 Central Avenue in Colonie. Testing is free for those who are eligible based on CDC guidelines and are at least 18 years old. It’s available between 9am and 5pm, seven days a week by appointment only. Registration is now available at www.riteaid.com. Tests will be conducted from within an individual’s car with self-swab nasal tests and with the help of a pharmacist.
For those experiencing stress, anxiety or depression while confined to their homes for extended periods of time, the Albany County COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available seven days a week from 8am to 8pm at (518) 269-6634. Anyone experiencing a psychiatric emergency should still call the Albany County Mobile Crisis Team at (518) 549–6500. The 24-hour sexual assault hotline number is (518) 447-7716.