Westchester Reaches 82 Coronavirus Cases; Cuomo Appeals for Calm

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The number of cases of the coronavirus in New York State topped 100 on Sunday, with Westchester accounting for 82 of those, Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed in his daily briefing.

Despite the rising number of positive test results, Cuomo said that unless a resident is part of a vulnerable population – the elderly and those with underlying health issues – people should remain calm and remain at home if they don’t feel well.

“Most people (who) get the virus, get sick, you stay home,” he said. “Most people have mild symptoms. Most people don’t get hospitalized. The dangerous aspect, again, is people in that vulnerable population.”

Virtually all of the 82 Westchester cases can be traced to the 50-year-old New Rochelle attorney who was the first positive case of the coronavirus, COVID-19, in New York State last Tuesday. There were a few large gatherings late last month at Temple Young Israel of New Rochelle, which has been linked to the spread.

In the remainder of the state, there are another 23 cases as of Sunday, including 12 in New York City, five in Nassau County, two each in Rockland and Saratoga counties and one each in Ulster and Suffolk counties, Cuomo said.

Late last week the Mount Vernon and Hastings school districts closed, Somers schools will be closed on Monday and on Sunday Scarsdale school officials announced they would be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

At the governor’s Sunday briefing, which came a day after he declared a state of emergency, Cuomo said that one of the goals is to avoid large-density gatherings in the areas where the virus has been prevalent. An increasing number of private organizations have increasingly been closing to err on the side of caution.

Cuomo asked that employers, to whatever extent possible, allow people to take time off from work if they are not feeling well.

“One infected person in a large gathering can infect people quickly,” he said. “That’s why we want to avoid large gatherings, we want to avoid density, that’s why I’m reaching out to private sector companies,” he said.

Effective last April, most employees in Westchester County became entitled to earned sick leave, under a law passed by the Board of Legislators in October 2018.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said people who are prioritized for testing include those who have returned from countries of concern, anyone who has been close to someone who tested positive or anyone in the hospital where there is no other cause for why they may have symptoms.

Cuomo also mentioned that he has appealed to the Centers for Disease Control to allow private laboratories to conduct coronavirus testing. After a delay, permission was granted to have state laboratories do testing, but the demand is more than can be handled, he said.

Laboratories such as Northwell Health can do a higher rate of testing.

“I want to find the positives. We want to put them in isolation so that it’s not spreading,” the governor said. “The more positive people we find, the better. The more tests we run, the better. The more tests we run, the more positive people we will find, the better. Then we can do the containment.”

Despite the soaring number of positive cases, Cuomo asked that residents remain calm and take the recommended precautions of washing hands frequently and staying home from work if they don’t feel well.

Those that are not part of the vulnerable populations are unlikely to have serious issues even if they do get the virus, Cuomo said.

“There’s a level of fear here that is not connected to the facts,” he said. “There’s more fear, more anxiety than the facts would justify.”

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