Westchester County Executive George Latimer said Monday that everyone who enters a county office building will be required to wear a mask and in most situations at Westchester’s three public beaches and four swimming pools.
“When we look at where we are in comparison to where we were a month ago, it’s clear that this is a steady rise and we know that these numbers will continue to go up unless we take certain efforts and certain activities,” Latimer said.
However, while he called mask wearing in county buildings “a necessity” given the sharp recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Latimer stopped short of mandating vaccinations for the county workforce. He explained that making the vaccine compulsory will do little to convince those who have yet to get the vaccine even though demand for the shots have slackened.
The county will survey its workforce to get an idea about what percentage are vaccinated and to convince the hesitant and resistant to change their minds.
“We understand that some people may not want to tell us one way or the other,” Latimer said. “We have to treat them as if they’re unvaccinated.
Latimer made the announcement as active COVID-19 cases have jumped to 1,225 in Westchester through Sunday, up from 196 on July 1.
The encouraging part of the latest is that there are currently only 28 virus-related hospitalizations throughout Westchester and that figure has yet to exceed 30 on any given day, he said. In early July, there were just six hospitalizations, the lowest since the start of the pandemic.
Throughout the entire month of July there were three fatalities in the county from the coronavirus.
The mask mandate for county buildings also comes as the county officially hit the 80 percent vaccinated level as of Monday. Eight out of 10 adults at least 18 years old have received at least one vaccine, joining Manhattan and Nassau County in reaching that threshold.
County the entire population, including children, 67 percent of Westchester residents are vaccinated. Children under 12 still cannot be vaccinated and youngsters between 12 and 18 years old can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
In addition to county buildings, Latimer said the other facilities where they will be required when entering, leaving or circulating at the Playland, Croton Point Park and Glen Island beaches, which Westchester owns and operates, and at the Saxon Woods, Sprain Ridge Park, Tibbetts Brook Park and Willson Woods pools.
If patrons at any of those facilities are sitting in their blanket or chair with family or friends or in the water, they are not required to wear a mask. Otherwise, they must wear a face covering.
Face masks are not needed at the six county golf courses or at any of the other more passive parks, trails or nature centers, Latimer said.
No decision has been made about whether to mandate masks at Playland amusement park. Employees at Playland are required to wear masks, but over the weekend enough patrons had voluntarily put on face coverings where currently it is not an issue, Latimer said.
Latimer cautioned that while to some residents, returning to wearing masks in certain situations may there is currently no plan for more stringent measures.
“The fear that we’re going to see big closedowns of businesses or reducing the number of people that can go to work or enjoy other activities is not where we are today,” Latimer said. “So, let’s be clear, we have not reached that point of crisis that warrants that type of severe measures.”
Latimer mentioned that on Monday, the county resumed its conference calls with the county’s school superintendents to review how districts are faring. Most schools reopen early this year on or about Sept. 1.