Westchester Sees COVID-19 Case Uptick Despite Dodging P’ville Outbreak

All 205 COVID-19 tests administered at a drive-through testing site at Phelps Hospital over Labor Day weekend from a potential exposure at Holy Innocents Church in Pleasantville came back negative, Westchester County reported.

Individuals who attended Masses or First Communion ceremonies at the Bedford Road church from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30 faced exposure after two priests and a staff member tested positive for the virus.

There are two additional tests where results are pending, village officials stated in a release last Friday afternoon.

The church revealed on Sept. 4 that the priests, Fr. Luke Hoyt and Fr. Frank Sutman, tested positive for COVID-19. That required anyone who had attended Masses on Aug. 24, 26, 29 and 30 and a First Communion ceremony on Aug. 29 to quarantine for two weeks from the time they attended any of those events, health officials said.

It had been estimated by county officials that as many as 400 people may have attended the Masses or the ceremony during the days in question.

Although there are no known cases traced to the Holy Innocents event, there has been some mildly increasing concern that the number of active cases throughout Westchester has been on the rise during the last two weeks. County Executive George Latimer reported Monday that as of Sept. 13 there were 587 active cases, an increase of more than 100 cases in the past few weeks, and up from a summer low of about 420.

Active cases are determined by the number of people who have tested positive and have not cleared the two-week quarantine period.

Despite the increase in the number of raw cases, the daily infection rate – the number of positive results compared to the number of test results – have not strayed far from 1 percent, Latimer noted.

“We have not seen wide geographic spread, we have not seen the infection rate get significantly above 1 percent, we have not seen a rise in fatalities and we have not seen a significant rise in hospitalizations – 10, 20, 30 percent – that would make us wary even if the active cases are up,” Latimer said.

The state’s coronavirus tracking site, which also provides daily statistics by county, shows that in Westchester there has been an infection rate of more than 1 percent for seven of the last nine days through Sept. 13. However, the daily rate has not exceeded 1.2 percent.

By comparison, for the entire month of August, there were only three days of Westchester infection rates above 1 percent, Aug. 7, 11 and 17, never exceeding 1.1 percent.

Latimer said the county does not have enough information to identify whether there are specific reasons for the recent additional cases.

“What we’re seeing is that the positive tests are not spiraling in a particular area and as a percentage of a total they are not creating percentages that give us great concern,” he said.

If infection rates start to push toward 3 or 4 percent on a consistent basis without an identifiable reason then there would be greater worry, Latimer mentioned.

In Mount Kisco, last Thursday there were 17 active cases reported. Mayor Gina Picinich said five of those cases were in a single household. Several others were believed to have been the result of people returning from out of state.

Picinich said as schools reopened and cooler weather starts filtering in, there is likely to be some increase in cases. The numbers released on Monday showed that through Sunday there were 15 active cases in the village.

“There is not concern of a major outbreak,” Picinich said of the village’s situation. “This is certainly consistent with what’s happening in other areas of the county.”

Latimer also reported Monday the county had its first COVID-19-related death in two weeks on Sunday, bringing the toll to 1,453. Hospitalizations stood at 38, up from a recent low of 21, he said.

In its weekly report last Friday, Putnam County ticked up to 17 active cases and one hospitalization. The death toll has remained at 63 for several weeks.

On Sunday, the seven-county Mid-Hudson region had the highest infection rate of the 10 regions at 1.6 percent, followed by Central New York at 1.4 percent and New York City at 1 percent. All other regions registered less than 1 percent.

Statewide, the infection rate continues to hug closely to 1 percent each day, not having exceeded that threshold since Aug. 2.