Westchester to Begin Antibody Testing of First Responders on Monday

Westchester County will begin aggressive antibody testing starting Monday in White Plains, prioritizing first responders before members of the general public will have the opportunity.

About 400 people will be tested each day at the County Center by personnel from Westchester Medical Center, County Executive George Latimer said Friday. First county police officers along with members of Westchester’s health and probation departments and parole officers will be in line for the testing.

That will be followed by police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel from the cities, towns and villages, Latimer said. Volunteer firefighters and EMTs will also be included.

“These are people we need to have on the job — our police, our firefighters, our EMS people — healthy and on the job,” Latimer said. “When we have a significant number of vacancies where too many people are home sick, we can’t provide the level of service we need to provide.”

He expected that it would take a few weeks to complete antibody testing for all of the frontline workers. Then the general public could be scheduled for testing.

Antibody tests determine who has had the virus and is likely to have some level of immunity from COVID-19. It can also identify which people can donate blood, and the plasma can be given to patients battling the virus as a treatment, Latimer said.

The announcement came as another 18 county residents were reported to have died from the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing Westchester’s death toll to 1,049. However, active cases continue to drop and stood at 6,756 on Friday, a little less than halfway from the high point, Latimer said. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue track at between 10 and 11 percent of the number of active cases, he said.

Also, 85 percent of the deaths in Westchester have been people 60 years old and up, while those who are 70 and older account for nearly two-thirds of the victims.

Two More Golf Course Reopening

Latimer said that this weekend will see the reopening of Dunwoodie and Sprain Brook golf courses in Yonkers, making four of the county’s six golfing facilities open for business. Social distancing protocols will remain in effect.

Two weeks ago, the county opened Mohansic and Hudson Hills in Yorktown and Ossining, respectively.