Happy Wednesday, all!! I hope you all are enjoying the clear but chilly weather. It was another day full of COVID-19 related updates. I know that it seems like COVID is just absolutely dominating every aspect of life. The news is getting better, though, and that is what matters, right?

Though the news is still all about COVID, the landscape is changing. The change is directly related to the number of cases, which is still alarmingly high but also dropping steadily. Hopefully, this trend continues.

1) Private labs have been handling the bulk of coronavirus testing throughout the United States. And now demand has reduced to the point that there is sufficient unused capacity to allow testing in less severe cases.

According to the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), the testing hit its peak on Sunday, April 5, with 108,000 tests performed. On Monday, April 6, it dropped to under 100,000 tests per day, and by this past Monday, the daily tally was 43,000.

The ACLA says its member labs have worked through all of their respective backlogs, and the number of orders from physicians and medical facilities has continued to decline. This is most likely due to state medical facilities following the guidelines put forth by the CDC to test severe cases, members of high-risk communities, front line health workers first to make the most of the limited number of test kits available.

One of the more prominent companies in the clinical testing world is Quest Diagnostics, which is now able to perform about 45,000 tests a day. The company said it is also now has additional capacity available for testing, so it, too, can begin to relax testing requirements.

This means that Quest will be start to allow testing of those who the CDC classifies as Priority 3 – symptomatic patients, any mildly symptomatic patients from hard-hit areas, and asymptomatic health-care workers and first responders.

This still will not include members of the general public, as test kits remain in short supply.

2) COVID-19 has many hard realities, perhaps the worst of which is the fact that people who are severely ill are alone at the end of their time, unable to see their loved ones and say goodbye. As a result, many facilities are attempting to gather laptops and other means of facilitating virtual final moments.

Hearing how one doctor created a Zoom meeting for one family, Sara Rodell was inspired to do more. A friend sent her a text requesting that any video chat enabled devices be donated to hospitals. Rodell owns and is the CEO of Loop & Tie, a site that allows you to send a collection gift to a recipient and lets them shop the collection and make their own selection.

She connected with some of her fellow tech industry entrepreneurs. By the next day, they had all come together to form the COVID Tech Connect. This is a non-profit working on getting these needed devices to hospitals so that COVID patients can say goodbye.

This new group has raised over $165,000 towards new devices, and is projecting that some 40 hospitals will be getting about 2,600 machines from their The Giving Back Fund.

3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order/a> that basically requires all New York residents to wear some kind of face-covering when they are out in public and unable to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This means any time you plan to take public transportation, shop in stores or walk on crowded sidewalks you must cover your face.

This order takes effect Friday, April 17, and will be enforced – by localities, the governor said – for anyone who isn’t keeping the recommended six feet of distance between themselves and others. The point (clearly): To stop the spread.

Technically speaking, those who don’t cover their faces can’t be kicked off public transit, but officials can consider civil penalties for those who do not comply. In addition, criminal penalties are under review.

4) The Colonie Police Department (CPD) has found a 2019 Ford Edge they believe was used in a shooting that took place Monday evening at around 6:30 p.m. The shooting was reported to 911 when the gun was heard firing near Old Loudon Road and Park Avenue. The vehicle, a rental with Massachusetts plates, was found in Troy. The CPD also said that they recovered a Glock .45.

Police who responded to the initial call found three bullet holes in 119 Old Loudon Rd., where residents called to report a bullet entering their home. Luckily, there were no injuries.

Another home on Old Loudon Road also had bullets fired into it, but the brothers who live there were gone when the cops arrived.

On Tuesday, Shaquille Fowler was found and had in his possession an illegal and loaded firearm. The gun itself was not stolen, but Fowler did not have the legal authority to have possession of it. He was found and detained when he returned to his home. His brother, Joel Fowler, is wanted for questioning, according to the CPD.

5) In Rotterdam, the River Road and Main Street intersection is closed from the exit ramp of 890 to Bridge Street, State Route 103. This closure will remain in effect until further notice, per the Rotterdam Police Department (RPD). They expect it to be open at some point tomorrow.

The RPD also stated there might be power outages in the area.

The issues were caused by a car accident that hit the poles and knocked them down, and the power lines are on the roadway.

National Grid is on the scene.

 “Three more days. That’s what Sven always told me. When you think you’re at the end of your rope, give it three more days. And then another three. Sometimes you’ll find the rope is longer than you thought.”

Mary E. Pearson

Photo credit: George Fazio.