ALBANY – Health-care workers. Law enforcement. Firefighters.
As hospitals have ended community testing, saving their remaining coronavirus tests for those who need them the most, the scope of the disease’s impact on first responders is becoming clearer.
Monday evening, Albany Medical Center said 45 health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by novel coronavirus, since the outbreak began.
Fred Venditti, executive vice president for system care delivery and hospital general director, said that 141 workers who’ve been exposed to the virus are wearing masks and checking their temperatures twice a day.
“If you think about it, we employ 10,000 people — to only have 45 health care workers positive for COVID-19 — it’s a pretty small number,” he said in a video posted to the hospital’s YouTube channel Monday evening.
Meanwhile the total number of confirmed cases in the Capital Region rose to more than 530.
“These are primarily first responders that are being tested right now,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said Tuesday during his daily news briefing. “My heart goes out to you and your families.”
The county recently received a shipment of 8,000 N-95 masks. The majority of them will go to hospitals in the county with the rest being distributed to EMS crews, McCoy said.
The number of first responders testing positive goes beyond health care workers.
On Monday, the Albany Fire Department temporarily shut its Arbor Hill firehouse on North Manning Boulevard for cleaning after a third city firefighter tested positive. Another 20 are in quarantine and five more are awaiting tests results.
Tuesday, the State Police said they have 31 officers and two civilian staff members among their ranks statewide who have tested positive for the disease. Another 127 sworn officers and civilian staff are in quarantine.
There have also been confirmed cases over the last month at the Albany County sheriff and Schenectady police departments. Two Troy firefighters and one Albany police officer are in precautionary quarantine.