Despite a one-day uptick in COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Westchester County continues to see an encouraging trend in infections and hospitalizations as mask requirements in schools and businesses have been eased in recent weeks.
As of Saturday, there were 878 active cases in the county, down from 3,750 on Feb. 5. During the worst days of the Omicron variant in early to mid-January, there was a high of more than 36,000 cases.
Only 54 people were in Westchester hospitals from COVID-19-related illness, less than one-quarter of the 237 from a month earlier.
While there were three deaths last week attributed to the virus, the county concluded the week with four consecutive nights without a single COVID-19-related fatality.
“We’re seeing now a continuation of a downward trend,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “I think we can declaratively say that the Omicron variant surge is over and we’re now at a level of infection that is much more manageable.”
Latimer said officials continue to track the daily numbers, which included a spike on Saturday of 214 new cases from 5,712 tests, or a 3.7 percent infection rate. That number followed rates of 1.3 and 1.4 percent last Thursday and Friday, respectively, in the county.
Five of the six other counties in the same Mid-Hudson region that also includes Westchester were under 2 percent on Saturday, including Putnam County at 1.8 percent and Sullivan County at 0.9 percent. Only Ulster County was higher than Westchester at 4 percent.
Sunday’s data was released by the state later Monday afternoon, which showed that Westchester had returned to less than a 2 percent infection rate, at 1.8 percent. There were 48 additional cases from 2625 tests.
Latimer said there was no reason to believe that there should be concern but the statistics will continue to be monitored.
“We don’t believe that what we see now is some upswing in one day but anything is possible and certainly by the time we report next week if that upswing is something consistent, then we’ll report that to give you the accurate information,” Latimer said.
The statewide positivity rate on Saturday and Sunday was 1.4 percent each day, just below the seven-day rolling average of 1.5 percent.
Tests and vaccinations will continue to be administered at the County Center for the foreseeable future. Testing will be for those residents who have had an exposure to a known positive case within the past five to seven days, said Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins. The exposure had to have been for a total of 10 minutes, he said.
Testing is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.
Vaccinations are available through appointment only on the county Health Department website.
Latimer cautioned residents that just because restrictions have been eased COVID-19 hasn’t ended.
“We are not finished with COVID, however,” he said. “It would be foolish to act as if this is over. At some level we’re going to be dealing with COVID every day for the rest of our lives, but in a manageable way that we think will be intelligent, and that does include testing and that does include vaccinations.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/