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COVID-19: Police To Increase Social Distancing Enforcement After HS Cluster

More than a dozen people have tested positive for COVID-19 after a graduation ceremony at Horace Greeley High School.
More than a dozen people have tested positive for COVID-19 after a graduation ceremony at Horace Greeley High School. Photo Credit: ny.gov

Police will be increasing social distancing enforcement after a cluster of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases linked to the graduation ceremony in Northern Westchester County at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua.

New Castle Police Chief James D. Carroll made the announcement early Monday evening, June 29.

The cluster, traced to a student at the ceremony who tested positive after returning from Florida, has jumped to 13 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier in the day Monday.

Cuomo said that anyone who attended the graduation ceremony should self-quarantine until at least Sunday, July 5.

“We’ve seen this in Westchester before," Cuomo said. "It was one person in New Rochelle,.

“It was one person in New Rochelle. It was the first hotspot in the United States. That one person led to hundreds of COVID cases.”

Chappaqua Central School District Superintendent Christine Ackerman said, "The Greeley graduation was a carefully planned event that strictly followed Gov. Cuomo’s executive orders and all NYS Department of Health Guidelines. 

"The district repeatedly provided clear guidance and protocols for families that complied with all applicable health and safety orders and guidelines.

"Unfortunately, at the event, and despite police presence, numerous individuals failed to follow our protocols. In addition, we later learned that one attendee, who had recently traveled to Florida, later tested positive for COVID-19."

In the announcement on stepping up social distancing enforcement, Police Chief Carroll began by saying, "The New Castle Police Department, like every other police department in Westchester County and across the state, hoped that most persons and businesses would voluntarily comply with the governor’s COVID-19 related executive orders. 

"We have made a concerted effort to educate and warn violators that non-compliance could result in a criminal or civil charge. 

"While the overwhelming majority of residents are compliant, we are increasing our social distancing enforcement based on recent activity in town.

"I have added additional officers strictly for this purpose. If we see a social distancing violation or an actionable one is reported to us, we will investigate and address it."

The announcement noticed that as long as the executive orders are in effect, you can be charged with the following:

  • Violation of Health Law – criminal misdemeanor; up to $10,000 for a first-time violation and/or up-to one-year imprisonment.
  • Violation of Health Law – civil violation; up to $2,000 for a first-time violation and $5,000 for repeat violations.
  • Non-essential gatherings prohibited – civil violation; maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation.
  • Disorderly Conduct – criminal violation; up to a $250 fine and fifteen days in jail.

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