COVID-19 Cases Decline as Officials Hope Delta Impact Lessens

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By Martin Wilbur and Rick Pezzullo

A noticeable drop in the number of COVID-19 cases locally and throughout the state has officials hopeful that the summer surge fueled by the Delta variant may be waning.

Westchester reported that the active cases have fallen to 1,668 as of Sunday, a drop of nearly 500 cases from a week earlier. For the five-day period ending Oct. 2, the statewide positivity rate was less than 3 percent each day, the first time that has occurred since July.

“We hope that this is the trend, but we still have to see what happens as the weather gets colder, as we move indoors and the disease spread more easily indoors than outdoors,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. “So we’re by no means through the worst of this, but we are progressing ahead and we think these numbers are very encouraging.”

There had been a late August high of 2,836 active cases. COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Westchester have dropped to 52 less than half of the 110 from late August.

Another encouraging sign is Westchester has reached an 89.1 percent vaccination rate. As of Sunday, there were 735,541 residents 18 years old and up who have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 658,317 have completed the series, Latimer said.

In the region, Westchester had an infection rate on Saturday of 1.3 percent, the lowest in the seven-county Mid Hudson region.

Putnam County stood at 2.9 percent as the active number of cases has risen to 158 as of last week. There are two patients hospitalized in Putnam with COVID-19. Its vaccination rate is 83.6 percent, according to the state tracker.

The county vaccination sites at the County Center in White Plains and it’s the Health Department clinics in White Plains and Yonkers are not yet administering COVID-19 booster shots, Latimer said. There are pharmacies and health care providers around the county that are giving boosters.

Recently, Pfizer was approved to give a third dose to people 65 years old and up and for those who are younger but are immunocompromised. Booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet been approved and vaccines cannot be mixed.

In Putnam County, the Department of Health is only giving boosters at its immunization clinics along with certain health care providers and pharmacies.

Peekskill, Neighbors Link Partner on Vaccinations

The City of Peekskill has entered into a contract with Neighbors Link to help increase the COVID-19 vaccination rate for Hispanic residents.

Under a professional services agreement unanimously approved by the Common Council on Sept. 27, the Mount Kisco-based immigrant advocacy organization will be compensated up to $50,312 to implement a variety of outreach methods in the city now through June 30, 2022.

City officials have estimated that 40 percent of Peekskill’s population is of Hispanic origin. City Manager Andy Stewart said almost 75 percent of city residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 shot, leaving about 6,000 residents still unvaccinated.

“I’m really excited about this partnership,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo. “They have a willingness to partner with community leaders to identify people who haven’t received their shots.”

Neighbors Link Executive Director Carola Bracco and Chief Strategy and Development Officer Laura Newman told the council they have already successfully assisted about 1,200 individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I have seen this one-on-one work is the most effective way for people to get vaccinated,” Bracco said. “We have not come across many people who are adamantly opposed to getting vaccinated.”

As part of its efforts, Neighbors Link will identify congregate events, community leaders and local vaccinated people to create peer-to-peer educational outreach and partner with Peekskill companies that have high numbers of immigrant employees to provide education to owners and possible vaccine points of distribution for workers.

Bracco noted Neighbors Link will also offer incentives to try to entice individuals to get the vaccine.

“I think the Neighbors Link proposal sounds terrific,” said Councilman Dwight Douglas.

According to data provided by Westchester County, Peekskill has had 4,204 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started. There were 54 reported active cases in the city.

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