If there’s one thing public health experts and hospital leaders don’t like to do, it’s predict the future — especially when so much of it hangs on the behavior of a weary public and a virus we still don’t know enough about.
“I feel hopeful, frankly, about the next few months based on how we’ve responded to surges this past month,” said Eli Rosenberg, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University at Albany's School of Public Health.
Signs of a second wave.
By nearly every single metric the Capital Region is headed into a second wave.
New daily cases across eight local counties have increased noticeably, coming just 17 cases shy recently of the region’s spring peak of 147 new cases recorded May 1, a Times Union analysis of local county data reveals.
The region has topped 100 new daily cases only four times this year — three of which occurred this month.
Leaders from Capital Region hospitals gathered at Albany Medical Center on Wednesday to warn of the increase, and to urge the public to get vaccinated against flu and remain vigilant about mask use, distancing and hand hygiene.
"It seems as though for us, the next wave has started," said Dr.
Peter’s Health Partners, told the Times Union.
As of Tuesday, at least 360 residents of the eight-county Capital Region were known to have died from the virus.
That has generally been true for New York and the Capital Region, though the United States experienced a second wave outside of the Northeast this summer and is now entering its third wave.
People are exhausted by the stress and isolation the pandemic has caused, and a sort of "COVID fatigue" has set in that is leading to increased socialization and decreased vigilance, public health officials say.
While they may have been able to count on people staying away from loved ones in the spring when the virus was new and lockdowns were novel, officials are now worried that the impending holiday season and return of college students from possible hot spots is going to fuel a new surge of cases at the worst possible time.
Whalen and other health officials who spoke to the Times Union agreed that people should try and avoid holiday gatherings with family and friends outside of their immediate household this year.
While local health officials are hopeful a second wave won’t be as big as the first, they are preparing for possible contingencies in the coming months.
That should impact roughly 35,000 health care workers in the region, they said.
Bethany Bump writes about all things health, including state and local health policy, addiction and mental health for the Times Union
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