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COVID-19: Arrival Of Residents From NYC Drives Spike In Cases In These Upstate Counties

Downstate New Yorkers heading upstate have been bringing the COVID-19 infection with them.
Downstate New Yorkers heading upstate have been bringing the COVID-19 infection with them. Photo Credit: Pixabay

With many downstate New Yorkers flocking to less dense, more rural areas in upstate New York during the COVID-19 pandemic, those regions are reporting a rise in the number of cases of the virus that are spreading.

Upstate officials are working to get as many COVID-19 vaccinations completed as quickly as possible as many have fled from New York City and the suburbs during the pandemic in favor of locales further upstate.

According to some reports, the number of New York City residents who have moved upstate into the Captial Region’s four largest counties has increased by more than 200 percent during the pandemic, which has also led to rises in reported new cases.

In Albany County alone, there have been dozens of new COVID-19 cases reported daily over the past week, though the five-day average number of new cases has dipped slightly from 71.8 to 69.2.

Active cases in many upstate counties are also on the rise, as is the number of New Yorkers placed under mandatory quarantine due to contracting the virus or being considered a “close contact.”

According to the U.S.. Postal Service, the bulk of the transplants came from the four boroughs - the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens - into Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady.

In 2020, these Capital Region counties saw the largest influx of residents coming from New York City in 2020 compared to 2019.

  • Rensselaer County: 787 percent increase;
  • Saratoga County: 518 percent;
  • Schenectady County: 152 percent;
  • Albany County: 126 percent.

Downstate has been hit the hardest by the virus, with the highest seven-day average positive COVID-19 infection rates above four, including New York City (4.7 percent), the mid-Hudson Valley (4.6 percent), and Long Island (4.2 percent). Only Western New York was higher after seeing a recent surge in cases the past week (4.7 percent).

None of the state’s other six regions have an average rate above 3 percent:

  • Finger Lakes: 2.7 percent;
  • Capital Region: 2.4 percent;
  • Mohawk Valley: 1.6 percent;
  • North Country: 1.6 percent;
  • Southern Tier: 0.8 percent.
  • Central New York: 1.4 percent;

Stephen Lam, formally of Freeport on Long Island, was among those who packed up and headed back upstate, near where he went to school, instead opting for a multi-family home on 9th Avenue in Troy.

“It was something (my wife and I) had talked about, having gone to school up there, and then once the pandemic hit and started spreading, we decided to pull the trigger,” Lam, who graduated from SUNY Albany in 2010, said.

“We weren’t going to be able to work (in New York City), the price was right, and the time was right,” he added. “You could see that this (COVID-19) was no joke, so it seemed like the right time for us.” 

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