Confirmed Coronavirus Case Reaches Westchester

County Executive George Latimer, at the podium, announcing the first case of confirmed coronavirus in Westchester County on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Shirlita Amler, second from right, is the county health commissioner and addressed simple precautions county residents can take.

A confirmed case of coronavirus in Westchester County was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday morning. It’s the second confirmed case in New York.

The man with coronavirus is in his 50s and an attorney who works in Manhattan and lives in New Rochelle. He is considered to be in serious condition.

Officials said the Westchester patient has no known connection to any contagion center. The virus was initially identified in China late last year and has spread across the globe. The man had recently traveled to Miami.

Cuomo stressed that news of the second New York patient (the other being a Manhattan woman) should not trigger panic. Instead, people should exercise the same caution as they might with the flu. Officials had expected the disease would spread.

“We are trying to just do the investigation phase to learn who may have been impacted and where this might have come from because right now I don’t have this information,” Dr. Sherlita Amler, Westchester County’s health commissioner, said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in White Plains.

Cuomo said one of the man’s children attends school in the Bronx, at the Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) Academy. The school was voluntarily closed on Tuesday, the governor stated. The positive result also reportedly resulted in the closure of Westchester Torah Academy in White Plains and the Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck. The man and his wife have four children but two are living in Israel. One of the children who lives with the patient and his wife in New Rochelle commutes to a college in New York City. The other local child attends SAR. County officials are trying to identify all the people the family has been in contact with in recent weeks.

After the man returned from the trip to Miami, he was checked into New York-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville where he was for as many as five days. Amler said once the man did not get better, and continued to suffer from fairly serious respiratory issues, he was tested and transferred to an undisclosed hospital in New York City. She received the news at about 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“Our responsibility, that Dr. Amler has taken on, is to track the movements of this individual and his family in Westchester County,” County Executive George Latimer said at the Tuesday afternoon press conference.

County officials said there is a likelihood of more cases within Westchester. Amler would not try and predict how fast or how widespread the contagioun might spread. There will be a Tuesday afternoon conference call involving all the elected officials in Westchester County.

An estimated 200,000 county residents per day commute into New York City.

Amler encouraged Westchester residents to take basic precautions, like vigorously washing hands. She noted how it’s vital for people to wash not just their palms but also between fingers and the back of hands with soap or sanitizer. If you don’t feel well, Amler said you should stay home. She also suggested citizens be sure to get a flu shot; that will help investigators more likely rule out flu when trying to make a prognosis for those who are having symptoms. If you suspect you may have been exposed, or are symptomatic, don’t just show up at the emergency room, doctor or urgent care, Amler said. Instead, first call your primary care physician.

At the direction of New York State, Amler also directed that Temple Young Israel in New Rochelle halt all services immediately and for the foreseeable future due to potential exposure connected to the man who tested positive. 

Additionally, congregants of the temple who attended services on Feb. 22, and a funeral and a Bat Mitzvah at the temple on Feb. 23, must self-quarantine until at the very earliest Mar. 8. Those who do not self-quarantine will be mandated to by the County Department of Health to do so, according to a press release distributed by the county government Tuesday afternoon.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey said she is working to address the issue at the federal level by leading the negotiations for a supplemental appropriations bill to provide resources for public health needs.

“Yesterday, I met with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield to discuss the need for a robust response that assists state and local health departments, develops vaccines and therapeutics, and gets information to providers and the public expeditiously,” Lowey said in a statement. “My staff and I are working closely with the governor’s office and county and local officials to ensure our communities and residents are prepared.”

The county will provide new information as it becomes available.



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