Albany County announces COVID-19 testing partnership to help students return to classrooms

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy was joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Liza Whalen on Monday to announce the latest COVID-19 numbers and introduce a new testing initiative aimed at getting students back into classrooms.

The county reported 68 new positive cases of COVID-19. There are currently 37 county residents hospitalized with the virus, and nine patients in the ICU.

McCoy and Whalen also announced a new partnership with the Whitney Young Health Center to separately attack the issue of COVID-19 in schools.

Albany County’s new testing initiative aims at getting students back into classrooms.

“This will only be available to students who are required to get the test in order to return to class,” said McCoy.

“This is a different mechanism of notification for testing,” said Whalen, “and it will be through the school nurses.”

After a parent coordinates with the school nurse, Whitney Young will reach out about setting up an appointment.

Meanwhile, as the county encourages people to stay vigilant and avoid large groups, they also want the public to be aware of a recent hiccup in their COVID-19 contact tracing system.

“There was a significant number of contacts that were sent back to us because of a glitch in the data collection,” said Dr. Whalen.

Close to 490 people who had been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 were never called when they should’ve been. Dr. Whalen says this is the first time it’s happened, and it is not a reflection of the health department’s ability to handle the workload as cases rise. Most of those 486, she said, found out one way or another that they were exposed to the virus, and if not, they will have been contacted by the end of the day.

Dr. Whalen once again wants to remind the public that rapid tests are not as accurate as laboratory tests and often produce false negative results. Many of them should be followed up with a laboratory test, especially if the person is symptomatic.

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