Coronavirus Updates for Dec. 24: Officials Urge Folks to Follow Safety Guidelines During Holidays to Avoid Spike in Cases, Deaths

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As the COVID-19 testing rate spiked in Westchester County just before Christmas Eve, as did the number of new coronavirus cases and related deaths.

Coronavirus cases increased by 651 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 64,560 since the start of the pandemic. The overall total test positivity rate is 4.8 percent, according to state data.

There are currently 8,188 active cases, the first increase the county has seen in about a week since cases started seeing a downward trend.

“That’s the first time in the last week we’ve had an increase in active cases,” County Executive George Latimer said during a Wednesday briefing. “What we were seeing for nine straight weeks was an increase in active cases every single day and in the last six days prior to yesterday, those number were starting to go down.”

While the increase is concerning, he said, it compares favorably to a week ago when active cases reached 8,750.

The daily test positivity rate is currently 5.73 percent. That percentage is based on 11, 368 tests taken on Tuesday, state data shows. Overall, there have been over 1.3 million COVID-19 tests administered in Westchester since March.

The county reported seven more deaths, resulting in a total of 1,624 COVID-19-related fatalities since March, according to the state tracker. This week 24 people have died from the virus, according to state data.

“We have now seen a steady flow of fatalities that has been disconcerting,” Latimer said. “This is a steadier fatality rate than we have seen before.”

As of Monday, there were about 367 virus patients in Westchester hospitals, a number that has increase but remained relatively consistent over the last two weeks.

“We’re a long way away from being out of this tunnel we’re in,” Latimer noted. “The truth of the matter is, we have a lot of tunnel to go until the full tunnel is vaccinated, and until then, these numbers continue to be concerning.”

Putnam County’s total caseload has reached 4,289, according to the state, with 58 additional positive cases recorded on Wednesday. The county’s daily positivity rate is 6.59 percent, with 880 tests administered Monday, state data shows.

Putnam currently has 800 active cases.

There have been 66 coronavirus-related deaths in Putnam. No new deaths were reported on Wednesday.

Statewide there were 11,937 new positive cases on Wednesday, according to the state tracker. The daily positivity rate was 5.84 percent.

The state recorded 164 additional COVID-19-related fatalities, bringing the death toll to 29,016 since March.

Total hospitalizations are at 6,864, an increase of 203 over the previous day, according to state data. Across New York there have been 878,702 positive coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

Here are the latest updates on Dec. 24

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that 89,000 New Yorkers have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 22,000 residents getting vaccinated in 90 nursing home facilities accurse the state.

While vaccines provide a level of hope and comfort to some, Cuomo asserted that while he’s not interested in implementing a new shutdown that would cause businesses financial insecurity, he urged folks to take the precautionary route when celebrating the holidays to avoid a surge in cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had previously warned that January will be a dark time for New York in terms of cases if guidelines aren’t followed over the holidays.

“We did not have the same post-Thanksgiving spike we saw elsewhere because we were more cautioned and more intelligent about it,” Cuomo said. “I don’t believe we are destined for a shutdown and I want to do everything we can to avoid one, but as I have been saying, that will be determined by our actions and the next 10 days are going to be key for us.”

As Westchester County continues to experience a rise in coronavirus cases, Northern Westchester Hospital will be offering free COVID-19 diagnostic tests to the public.

COVID-19 tests are available to community members at the facilities Center for Healthy Living, located at 480 Bedford Road in Chappaqua, next to Whole Foods. With maximum safety measures in place to prevent exposure, health officials are only requesting residents schedule an appointment prior to arrival.

No prescription will be required during the no-cost appointment, and results will be given within one to three days of taking the test.

Health officials are asking those to be aware of any symptoms relating to the virus, including fever, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, or new loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms include, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

State law also requires those traveling out of the state for more than 24-hours to test for the virus upon their return. The mandate states travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York, and must, upon arrival to New York, quarantine for three days.

On day four of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine.

Click here to make an appointment or call the Center for Healthy Living at 914-223-1780.

Westchester Active Coronavirus Cases by Municipality 

Here are the active cases by municipality in Westchester as of Wednesday. With a lag between the total number of cases confirmed by the state and the tally of cases by town, the total number of municipal cases might be slightly different than what the county’s active cases reflects.

  • Ardsley – 19
  • Bedford – 119
  • Briarcliff Manor – 49
  • Bronxville – 14
  • Buchanan – 16
  • Cortlandt – 231
  • Croton-on-Hudson – 66
  • Dobbs Ferry – 110
  • Eastchester – 209
  • Elmsford – 56
  • Greenburgh – 362
  • Harrison – 224
  • Hastings-on-Hudson – 34
  • Irvington – 25
  • Larchmont – 29
  • Lewisboro – 57
  • Mamaroneck Town – 57
  • Mamaroneck Village – 216
  • Mount Kisco – 151
  • Mount Pleasant – 283
  • Mount Vernon – 420
  • New Castle – 102
  • New Rochelle – 690
  • North Castle – 122
  • North Salem – 35
  • Ossining Town – 37
  • Ossining Village – 316
  • Peekskill – 305
  • Pelham – 58
  • Pelham Manor – 43
  • Pleasantville – 59
  • Port Chester – 324
  • Pound Ridge – 11
  • Rye Brook – 96
  • Rye City – 86
  • Scarsdale – 88
  • Sleepy Hollow – 101
  • Somers – 117
  • Tarrytown – 83
  • Tuckahoe – 44
  • White Plains – 539
  • Yonkers – 1,714
  • Yorktown – 338

School News & Business Closures 

Business Closures

  • In Peekskill, Factoria, River Outpost, and Fin & Brew will be closed for the winter out of an abundance of caution with coronavirus cases rapidly increasing locally. Restaurants will reopen on March 15.

School Closures

  • Carmel Central School District will transition to remote learning through Jan. 8.
  • Brewster Central School District will be on a remote learning schedule through Jan. 8
  • White Plains Public School will be on remote learning through Jan. 8
  • Greenburgh Central School District has transitioned all schools to remote learning through Jan. 11.
  • Peekskill City School District will close and shift to virtual learning through Jan. 4.
  • Mahopac Central School District will transition to virtual learning until January.
  • Lakeland Central School District will shift to its fully remote model starting Thursday through Jan. 19.

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