State Provides Guidelines to Protect First Responders from COVID-19

The state has issued guidelines in hopes of protecting first responders from being infected with COVID-19 as the death toll from the lethal virus reached more than 1,500 statewide Tuesday, including 25 in Westchester.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said his office was notified that paramedics, ambulance corps members, police officers and firefighters are being asked to screen themselves before and after their shifts, including taking their temperature, and to closely monitor themselves for coughs, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal distress and other symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19.

First responders should wear a surgical mask in close proximity to a co-worker and immediately place one on a patient. EMS workers should wear personal protection equipment, including N-95 masks, protective goggles, gloves and gowns when interacting with a known or suspected COVID-19 patient or when entering a healthcare facility or home with a quarantined resident.

To the extent possible, first responders are asked to keep at least six feet away from co-workers and the public.

“These guidelines are meant to be helpful because our first responders are critical to us,” Latimer said. “If we lose them or if they go out of service because of exposure to the virus, we will be unable to provide the level of service we need.”

Revised guidelines came as COVID-19 has now claimed 25 Westchester residents and the number of confirmed cases surged to 9,967 throughout the county, according to figures released by the state. Latimer said on Tuesday that 275 county residents are currently hospitalized.

The top 10 cases throughout Westchester broken down by municipality includes Yonkers (608); New Rochelle (378); Greenburgh (304); Mount Vernon (269); White Plains (170); Village of Ossining (153); Mount Pleasant (150); Port Chester (123); Cortlandt (120); and Yorktown (105). The totals for Mount Pleasant include the 28 cases in Pleasantville and 42 in Sleepy Hollow and the count for Cortlandt includes the villages of Croton-on-Hudson (17) and Buchanan (4).

The state reported on Tuesday 75,795 COVID-19 cases throughout New York with 1,550 deaths.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing Tuesday that New Yorkers shouldn’t expect a return to normal in the foreseeable future.

“It is not going to be soon,” Cuomo said.

New protocols regarding isolation were also issued for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Instead of waiting for two negative tests, people must now wait at least seven days since they first started experiencing symptoms, haven’t had a fever in at least three days without having taken fever-reducing medication and are not experiencing shortness of breath or difficult breathing.

Latimer said the interior of the County Center is currently being retrofitted as a temporary hospital and four field hospitals are being erected in the parking lot.

Also, starting Wednesday, Bee-Line buses will be put on an enhanced Saturday schedule because of a steep decline in ridership the past few weeks, Latimer said.

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