Officials concerned over number of people with no clear source of infection

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany County Health Department is concerned about the number of people infected with COVID-19 who do not have a clear source of infection.

56 percent of the 94 new positive cases announced by the department on Thursday did not have a clear source of infection. That’s something the department said hinders their job in controlling the infection’s spread.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen attributes that to people not being honest.

“People don’t want to put themselves in a position that they’re getting other people in trouble. They don’t want to put another person in a position to be out of circulation for a couple of weeks,” Whalen said.

When asked why she felt people aren’t being honest, she said it was because of convenience, fear and sometimes selfishness.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Bio-statistics at U Albany Dr. Eli Rosenberg said while he can’t speak to the honesty of individuals, there could be another reason why there’s such a large number of people with no clear source of infection.

“Contact tracing offers some assistance. It’s not going to singularly be the thing that stamps out all transmission,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said asymptomatic transmission within households could also be the reason there’s no clear source of infection.

“It’s truly to be expected when you have a lot of “within household transmission” and just a little bit of mingling between people,” Rosenberg said. “Imagine that you have a social network and you just erased a bunch of the dots on the lines [connecting them] because there’s no symptoms. You have this swiss cheese of a picture,” Rosenberg said.

Without a full picture, Rosenberg said this makes contact tracing more difficult, in-turn making information even more essential for the health department.

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