There were no COVID-19-related deaths in Westchester County for four consecutive days during the past week, the first time that has happened since the earliest days of the crisis.
County Executive George Latimer delivered the encouraging news as part of his now weekly Monday briefing, where rates of infection, hospitalizations and deaths continue to remain under control even after New York State has been opening for more than two months and cases in portions of the south and west spiral out of control.
From Thursday through Sunday, there was not one COVID-19 death in Westchester.
“We’re now entering a period of this infection where which the numbers are under control, we’re opening bigger chunks of society and that may have an effect on the numbers,” Latimer said.
Through Sunday, there were 472 active cases of the virus, a number that has remained in a fairly narrow range between 460 and the low 500s during the past month, he said. There were 47 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, as of Saturday, the last day where figures were available. The death toll has stalled at 1,443.
Latimer said that while the volume of new and active cases can fluctuate the raw numbers don’t always tell the story. He said it can be better if a greater number of cases are confined to one area, such as the two weeks following the Horace Greeley High School graduation in Chappaqua where 27 people tested positive, rather than fewer cases spread throughout the county.
“We’re going to monitor these things as best we can and we’re going to monitor spikes as we see them and we’re looking every day at the geographic distribution of the new cases to be sure that we’re not looking at an across-the-board trend,” Latimer said.
In Putnam County, the numbers continue to remain low with only seven active cases and no hospitalizations as of last Thursday. Several weeks ago, Putnam officials decreased the frequency of reporting its statistics to once a week. The death toll in Putnam has remained at 63.
In the local region and statewide, the infection rate remains constant at about 1 percent. In the Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester and Putnam counties, the infection rate stayed from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent in the seven-day period from July 20-26. Statewide it has been between 1 and 1.3 percent during that same timeframe.
Latimer said that the county and the state remain wary of how summer routines and habits might affect infections. With summer weather and many public swimming pools open, more people are outside, and despite the pandemic, there are still some people who are traveling.
Westchester County Airport, however, remains closed to commercial flights, which can help control infections in the county, he said. Still, there are risks.
“But many people travel by car and there’s no way to interdict people that are coming over the George Washington Bridge or come in from Rockland over the Hudson (River) to know whether or not they have a Florida plate on their car,” Latimer said.
As of Monday, there were 31 states where travelers to New York must quarantine for 14 days because they have a seven-day rolling average of positive tests over 10 percent or they exceed 10 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state’s tracking. The closest state to New York that appears on that list is Delaware.
Westchester, CUNY Partner on COVID Study
The Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) is partnering with the City University of New York (CUNY) to study the wastewater at county treatment plants to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on large urban areas.
Recently, it has been discovered that traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be detected in fecal matter, and therefore, in sewage collected at wastewater treatment plants. The study will take random samples from various treatment plants to find evidence of varying infection rates among different communities.
“In Westchester, we pride ourselves on being a leader for the nation when it comes to what county government can do,” Latimer said. This partnership is another example of the innovative techniques we can use to advance our community – and encourage others around the country to do the same.”
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/