For the first time in two months, active COVID-19 cases have leveled off in Westchester and Putnam counties over the past week, nearly unchanged from the previous week.
On Monday, the Westchester reported 2,797 active cases, up just four from the conclusion of the weekend of Aug. 21-22.
“That’s the first time since we have gone through a week since the end of June where we did not have a significant increase in the number of active cases,” said County Executive George Latimer.
In late June, active cases fell to between 100 and 200 before the onslaught of the Delta variant, which has ripped through regions of the United States that have poor vaccination rates, causing spikes in hospitalizations and deaths.
While there was a plateau in the number of cases during the past week, hospitalizations continue to tick up. Late last week the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations exceeded the century mark, with there being 108 coronavirus patients.
Also, in a seven-day span last week there were five deaths, which followed a week with three COVID deaths. There have now been 2,308 fatalities among Westchester residents since the start of the pandemic about 18 months ago.
The trend is very similar in Putnam County where active cases fell slightly from 130 on Aug. 20 to 122 a week later, but hospitalizations rose from two to six in that span. However, there have been no COVID-19 deaths in Putnam since Aug. 20.
An encouraging sign in Westchester has been a recent surge in people receiving their first dose of one of the vaccines, Latimer said. There were 1,093 first doses administered at the county sites – the County Center and at its clinics in White Plains and Yonkers, a level not seen in a couple of months. At one point this summer, the County Center was administering as few as 20 shots a day, down from more than 2,000 a day earlier in the year.
Latimer said the Food & Drug Administration’s recent full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine may have contributed to the increase.
“For some people, it’s given them a comfort level that the vaccine is safe and is appropriate to try to make their vulnerability to COVID less,” Latimer said. “With that, we hope that is a sign.”
Nearly 700,000 Westchester County residents have now been vaccinated. The county had reached an 83 percent vaccination rate of its residents 18 years old and up earlier in August, but with Westchester now officially reaching a population of just over one million, that rate has fallen to slightly under 80 percent, Latimer said.
Before Aug. 12, the county used the estimated population of about 967,000 to help compute its vaccination rate but has reached 1,004,000 with the release of the 2020 Census results.
Another effort being taken by Westchester is a new public service announcement featuring the pop trio AJR will be airing in hopes of boosting confidence among teenagers and young adults eligible to receive the vaccine.
Latimer said the county will continue to partner with school districts that want to host pop-up sites to inoculate students and staff. He said that 10 county departments are 100 percent vaccinated while another 12 have reached the 80 percent mark.
The county executive said that someone’s best chance to remain healthy during the pandemic is to get the vaccine, despite the rise in cases since late June. While active cases are at about 2,800 with relatively few deaths, in January there were about 11,500 cases.
“There’s almost a direct correlation to the beginning of vaccinations and the tremendous drop in the number of cases,” Latimer said.
Statewide, New York’s 10 regions ranged in positivity rates from a low of 2.7 percent in New York City on Sunday to a high of 7.8 percent in the Mohawk Valley. The Mid Hudson region, which includes Westchester and Putnam counties, registered a 3.6 percent positivity rate on Sunday. The Mid Hudson region’s seven-day rolling average stood at 3.7 percent through last weekend.
Westchester’s Sunday positivity rate was 3 percent while Putnam County came in at 4.2 percent with 19 positives out of 457 tests.