County Exec. Latimer discusses increase in Covid-19 cases

Westchester County Executive George Latimer gave an update Friday to the public regarding the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Westchester is now briefing on Covid-19 two times a week due to the continuous rise of cases. As of Friday, there was no change in yellow or orange zone status in Westchester municipalities, with Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Ossining, Peekskill and portions of Yonkers, New Rochelle and Rye Brook labeled yellow zones. Port Chester is the only municipality under orange zone status. Westchester has a total of 6,746 positive cases, with an increase of about 1,200 each week, said Latimer.

“We’re having a significantly higher amount of positive tests,” Latimer said. “This is all the more reason to wear masks, social distance, sanitize, wash your hands and avoid unnecessary contact with others. This is a serious rise.”

A total of 292 people are hospitalized due to Covid-19, whereas one month ago only 47 people were sent to hospitals for intensive treatment. Deaths from the disease totaled 47 in Westchester in November, while in the months of July and August combined there were only 26 deaths. “That’s double the fatalities in half the amount of time,” Latimer said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is currently identifying micro-clusters by zip code that have rising cases and is working to create a map with data divided by municipality. In particular, Cuomo is looking to see the impacts of the past Thanksgiving holiday, due to the two-week incubation period attributed to Covid-19.

Westchester County has to work with towns with increasing cases to curb the spread. “One of our major tools is contact tracing, which is stretched to the maximum,” said Latimer.

Dr. Sherlita Amler, commissioner of the county health department, said, “If you have tested positive for Covid-19, you need to isolate yourself for 10 days from onset day of your symptoms.” She said contact tracing is important to inform people that have been in contact with the infected to quarantine. “If you are exposed to Covid-19, you need to quarantine for 14 days since your last exposure,” said Amler. “Even if you test negative during the 14 day period, you still must complete the full quarantine period.”

Being exposed and having a negative test with no quarantine does not mean you are not infected, Amler said, as Covid-19 takes on average two weeks to fully show symptoms and appear positive on tests.

Regarding the current news of vaccines, two different vaccines are in the process of getting authorized for use in the coming months. Amler said “we have to be patient. You have to do everything you can to keep yourself and your families safe.”

Latimer said “we are concerned for all of our first responders. The more cases that come in, the more trained personnel we need, but we haven’t reached a point of crisis.” The quantities of personal protection equipment, staff and space in hospitals, among other variables, are being monitored by the county and state, and are currently at a stable level, according to Latimer.

For more up-to-date information on Covid-19 in relation to Westchester County, click here.