Home Health Respiratory diseases circulating in Saratoga, North Country

Respiratory diseases circulating in Saratoga, North Country


Doctors advise New Yorkers to get vaccinated ahead of the holidays, when flu, COVID and RSV are expected to surge. There are indications of increases in respiratory illnesses in Essex, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Influenza and COVID-19 are on the rise in Saratoga County and parts of the North Country compared to the rest of the state, according to state and federal health data. 

The flu and COVID-19 hospitalization maps published by the state Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a similar pattern, showing Saratoga, Warren, Washington and Essex counties among those with elevated levels of respiratory disease. (Hamilton County appears to have an elevated COVID-19 hospitalization rate, but no reported flu cases.)


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Since respiratory disease tends to surge around Thanksgiving, doctors are encouraging New Yorkers to get vaccinated ahead of the holidays and to take precautions around relatives who are medically vulnerable.

“Last year, we were hit pretty early in the season, first with RSV… followed by COVID and influenza,” said Dr. Rob Donnarumma, Chief Medical Officer at Saratoga Hospital. “This year, we’re seeing more of what I would call a typical epidemiological curve, where the numbers are just starting to creep up now as the weather is changing as people are spending more time indoors.”

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Influenza activity was categorized across New York as geographically sporadic by the state Health Department for the fifth consecutive week, according to the agency’s weekly flu report ending Nov. 4. But Essex County saw the highest rates of lab-confirmed cases in the state, with between 20 to 40 cases per population of 100,000 confirmed to have the illness. Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties were among six counties upstate with currently the second-highest level of reported flu cases, at eight to just under 20 cases per 100,000.


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COVID-19 hospitalization rates are down overall since early October across the state and in the Capital Region. The most recent local COVID-19 wave peaked Oct. 6, when 130 Capital Region residents were hospitalized with the illness, according to the DOH. That number has since been halved; 63 regional patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Nov. 13.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 hospitalization map, which is current as of Saturday, the vast majority of counties in the U.S. have a hospitalization rate of less than 10 per population of 100,000.

Saratoga and several surrounding counties, however, were outliers in the state. With hospitalization rates hovering just over 13 cases per population of 100,000, these areas were classified as having medium COVID-19 levels by the CDC. Hospitalizations are the best indicator of COVID-19 spread since most diagnostic tests are no longer tracked by health agencies.

Hospitals, however, have yet to see a significant rise in flu or RSV cases. 


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COVID and flu vaccines are largely available for most New Yorkers and appear to be well matched with current strains circulating, experts say. 

Children with Medicaid coverage have struggled to get access to the latest COVID-19 shots for several weeks because they were required to go through the state’s Vaccines for Children program, which had low participation and supply issues. For this population, vaccines are now available through county health departments.

There have been supply issues for the RSV shot this year, but the vaccine is being prioritized for the elderly and pregnant women. The state Department of Health has issued a standing order enabling people over 60 and pregnant people to obtain the shot from a pharmacy without a doctor’s referral. 

“[Expectant mothers] should certainly discuss this with their OBGYN, receiving this vaccine during late pregnancy, which can transmit immunity to their newborn babies,” Donnarumma said.


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