Westchester County Exec Delivers COVID-19 Update; Urges Social Distancing In Parks | WAMC

Westchester County Exec Delivers COVID-19 Update; Urges Social Distancing In Parks

Mar 26, 2020

The containment zone set up to control the spread of COVID-19 in New Rochelle has come to an end. Westchester County Executive George Latimer delivered an update Thursday. In addition to supplying statistics, the Democrat warned of closing county parks if residents don’t practice social distancing.

County Executive Latimer says Westchester’s positive cases as of Thursday number 5,944, an increase of more than 1,200 positive cases since Wednesday. He says 56 residents have been hospitalized and eight have died from COVID-19 related illness.

“It’s important to note that Westchester County has tested per capita more of its residents than any other county in the United States of America,” Latimer says. “We have had, month-to-date, since this whole contagion has spread through the month of March alone, 26,288 tests for individuals.”

He says Westchester’s largest municipalities have the largest number of confirmed cases. As of Thursday, New Rochelle had the most, with 264. The Village of Ossining had 54 cases; Scarsdale, 40; the Town of Cortlandt, 37 plus six in Croton-on-Hudson. Peekskill had 27 positive cases while the Village of Buchanan had no reported cases – the only one of 45 municipalities in Westchester without confirmed cases. Westchester has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the state, and it began in New Rochelle, where a 1-mile containment zone implemented for two weeks was lifted Wednesday.

“Because, at that point in time, we shut down schools in that area; we shut down country clubs; we shut down religious institutions that had halls and gathering and so forth, we basically acted in advance of what has wound up happening for most of the rest of the county over the course… most of the rest of state, has happened over the subsequent weeks,” says Latimer. “The last couple of days has had a fairly flat result in New Rochelle, which is the bulk of this area identified. We hope that means that those activities reduced the amount of contagion that could spread and therefore reduced the amount of people that we would find ourselves in a position of severe illness and hospitalization and so forth.”

He says it is too early to call the flattening a trend. He says state regulations and restrictions have replaced the containment zone. New York’s first coronavirus mobile testing site opened in New Rochelle, at Glen Island. Latimer responds to whether a testing site would open in northern Westchester.

“On a personal level, I think it makes sense to have another testing site in the northern part of the county because you just want to make it as convenient as possible for people to get tested, and in a mobile testing site where you have a significant size one in Glen Island, that’s in the far southeast corner of the county, it makes sense to have one in the north central, northwest portion of the county, so I would advocate for that, but it’s not the county’s decision; it belongs to the state,” says Latimer.

“That state Health Department has been aware that we have made available to them the site at FDR Park in Yorktown as a possible northern Westchester mobile testing site if they so choose to do that,” Latimer says.

Latimer urged residents to practice social distancing in the county’s 55 parks, especially following reports of clustering at Kensico Dam Plaza.

“If we do not practice social distancing, they become, just as restaurants and bars are, a source of the spread of the contagion,” Latimer says. “I don’t want to close any of these parks. I don’t want us to lose the recreational benefit that we have, but it must be understand that we cannot be in close proximity and close quarters with other people.”

Dutchess officials on Thursday confirmed the second death of a county resident relating to COVID-19. They say a 71-year-old male died Wednesday at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh. He was admitted for cardiac arrest and respiratory distress, and tested positive for COVID-19. Also on Thursday, Orange County officials reported the second COVID-19-related death, a person over the age of 70 with multiple pre-existing conditions.