Westchester County health officials stressed the need for the public to remain vigilant and continue to take precautions in hopes of warding off the mushrooming COVID-19 case numbers during the past couple of weeks.
Despite the steady increase in vaccinations across the county, Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler, along with Deputy Commissioner Peter DeLucia and County Executive George Latimer, urged residents to wear masks, social distance, wash hands, get tested if anyone feels symptomatic or feel they’ve been exposed and adhere to public health guidance regarding gathering limits. She also emphasized residents to sign up and receive any of the three available vaccines as soon as they can.
“Where this pandemic goes and what happens in our county is really up to each and every one of us individually,” Amler said. “We all have responsibility for our health and we have responsibility for those around us, those who we care about, those we work with, and so we need to do our part in trying to keep the case count down.”
Latimer reported that as of Wednesday, the active case count had risen to 5,914, up nearly 700 since the reported 5,233 cases countywide on Mar. 15. He said the numbers bear close watching, even as the COVID-19-related hospitalizations remain relatively constant in the mid-200s and the daily fatality count has dropped into the low single digits.
Latimer surmised that perhaps with an ever-increasing percentage of county residents getting vaccinated, the active cases are increasing but the health consequences of the virus for many have been diminished.
“We’ll have to see what that looks like over the next seven days and try to make judgments based on what the numbers tell us,” he said. “There’s always the fear that we’re seeing another reignition of the virus that we have here, and so many of us are at the point of pandemic fatigue, where we don’t want to wear the masks.”
On Wednesday, the Mid-Hudson region continued to have the highest positivity rate in the state, at 4.9 percent, including 4.2 percent in Westchester, 5.5 percent in Rockland and 5.4 percent in Putnam.
As of Monday, more than 16 percent of the county was fully vaccinated and a slightly lower number had received the first dose of the two-does Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Through Wednesday, there have been about 214,000 doses distributed at the County Center (152,000), the Yonkers Armory (nearly 30,000) and more than 31,000 at Westchester two Health Department clinics in White Plains and at Westchester Community College.
However, Amler said the county is wary of what might be coming in terms of caseloads in the days ahead. Last weekend was the first two nights of Passover and this weekend is Easter, both popular holidays for family gatherings.
She emphasized that gatherings must be limited to 10 people if indoors and 25 people if held exclusively outdoors. Amler urged anyone planning to attend a social gathering to get tested in advance so they are aware of their status. Also, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, continue to wear masks.
“I’m asking you to please help me, help the county executive, help your neighbors, help your family and to help stop the spread of this disease, that we can get to a point where we can have large gatherings and we don’t have to wear a mask,” Amler said. “That’s the goal we’re all trying to reach.”
On Thursday, quarantining and testing is no longer required New Yorkers returning from other states and territories provided the person is free of symptoms, hasn’t been exposed and is fully vaccinated. Full vaccination is considered two weeks after the final Moderna or Pfizer dose or the single Johnson & Johnson dose.
For information on eligibility and vaccination sites, the public may call 1-833-697-4829 or visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/