As COVID Cases Increase, Parts Of Westchester Could Be Headed Into Red Zones
Westchester County Executive George Latimer relayed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Monday that some areas in the county are headed to red zone status if COVID-19 numbers keep increasing. And he reminded the public that National Guard troops will be at the county airport to enforce COVID-19 rules ahead of a feared Thanksgiving spike.
Latimer said Westchester has 4,808 active cases as of Monday.
“There is no reason to sugarcoat this. We are seeing a continuing rise in the COVID infection, and it’s a serious rise,” Latimer says. “The governor reported earlier today in his update that he signs that yellow zones were heading toward orange and red category. The numbers are not good.”
He cites a 5 percent infection rate, saying that over the last four days, the lowest rate was 3.8 percent. The county had an increase of some 1,300 cases in a week, and a doubling of cases from two weeks ago. Latimer says hospitalizations are up, with the weekend’s figure at 168 people in the hospital. And he says one to two Westchester residents are dying from COVID-19 each day. Last week, Governor Cuomo announced the expansion of yellow zones in Rockland County to include Pearl River, West Haverstraw, Stony Point and Suffern. In Orange County, Cuomo added yellow zones in Newburgh, New Windsor, Middletown and Highland Falls. Cuomo also assigned yellow zones in Westchester. The color-coded system based on metrics goes from yellow to red, with red carrying the most stringent restrictions.
“We have an orange zone currently that affects most of the Village of Port Chester and part of the the Village of Rye Brook. There is an overlay yellow zone that goes slightly beyond that that includes part of the Village of Rye Brook and a very little piece of the City of Rye,” says Latimer. “And then we had last week announced five yellow-zone designations in portions of New Rochelle, Ossining, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, Yonkers and in Peekskill.”
But on Monday, Cuomo warned that certain areas were on track to enter more restrictive zones.
“Westchester County, parts of it are on track to become an orange and a red zone. Orange County on track to become an orange zone, unfortunate coincidence between Orange County and orange zone,” Cuomo says. “Putnam County, Brewster is on track to become a yellow zone.”
“I went to the Ossining Farmers’ Market on Saturday, went to the Peekskill Farmer’s Market with Mayor Rainey," Latimer says. "We had the opening of a major supermarket in Peekskill on Welcher Avenue to show that were still functioning, these communities are functioning. The fact that there’s zone designation does not mean that you can’t enter them or you can’t exit them.”
He reiterated that people must follow public health protocols of mask wearing and social distancing. Latimer announced a ceremony that will take place at the county’s Ribbons of Remembrance memorial at Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers.
“In that area, we set up an area where individuals can go and take a ribbon out of a designated box, write a message to or about a loved one that you’ve lost, and then tie it to one of the trees in this little grove area or a little wooden structure as a way to have a tangible way to remember these people,” says Latimer. “We’re going to have a ceremony on December 3rd, that’s next week at 2 p.m., I believe it’s a Thursday, and, at that time, we’re going to formally remember the 1,500 people We hope it isn’t one more person between now and then that we’ve lost due to COVID.”
Earlier this month, Cuomo announced that he was deploying the National Guard to airports to ensure that inbound travelers have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Latimer says the Guard will be deployed to Westchester County Airport starting Tuesday.
“They’re already in place at some of the larger airports — LaGuardia, JFK,” Latimer says. “Many may not know but Westchester County Airport is the third busiest airport for landings and takeoffs in New York state, busier than Albany and Buffalo and some of the other upstate cities.”
Latimer acknowledged there have been long lines in certain places for COVID-19 testing. He says more people likely want to get tested before Thanksgiving and that there are enough tests. Still, he urged residents to stick to a small gathering and not risk the spread of COVID.