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COVID-19: New Details Emerge On Greeley HS Graduation Cluster

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

At least 14 people have now had confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after a cluster broke out following a graduation ceremony in Northern Westchester.

Two families that traveled to Florida in recent weeks and returned back to Chappaqua attended the Horace Greeley High School graduation and parties on Saturday, June 20, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said this week.

Latimer said that in some instances, proper social distancing was not practiced, and not everyone in attendance was wearing a face covering during the ceremony and subsequent parties.


“The story in Chappaqua is a cautionary tale,” Latimer said during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday, June 29 at New Castle Town Hall. “Any one of us who went to high school can absolutely relate to the emotion of the moment, seeing the friends you’ve had all your life as you part company possibly for the last time in a long time, it’s an emotional moment.

“The people identified didn’t have any symptoms at the time of graduation, but they did thereafter, were tested, determined to be positive, and since then (14) people have tested positive.”

Latimer noted that those who tested positive have not been hospitalized, but tested positive and could have potentially transmitted the disease to other people.

“We saw how this started in Westchester with the index patient in New Rochelle,” he said. “One patient took sick, attended some religious events over a weekend and inadvertently infected other people at no fault of his own.

“That’s how we went from one to a cluster of 100, to 1,000, into the situation we have now.”

Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler said that contact tracers have been in touch with those who tested positive, and have been working to backtrack to see who else may have been infected.

“We interview all of the positive tests, and then we look at it as a bigger picture,” she said. “Are there people being named by more than one individual, were they at the same events? We’re looking for locations where multiple people are testing positive where we find these so-called clusters.”

New Castle Police Lt. James Dumser said that two officers were at the event to enforce social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols, but didn’t have eyes in the back of their heads to check on every guest during the entire event.

Both the officers who patrolled the graduation are currently under a voluntary 14-day quarantine as a precaution. No summonses were issued to anyone at the graduation ceremony.


“We had officers going through the crowd to provide reminders, but we didn’t issue any summonses,” he said. “There were well around 300 people and you can’t get to everyone.”

Latimer made note that the outbreak may not be contained to Chappaqua and New Castle, there were also some attendees from nearby towns who attended the event and went to graduation parties, specifically citing Mount Pleasant.

He said that anyone who attended the graduation should get tested for COVID-19 and possibly quarantine themselves.

“This particular incident happened in Chappaqua, but it could have happened anywhere, or in any neighboring county. It’s the dynamic of any high school graduation across the country,” Latimer said.

“The fact that it happened here is not a particular mark, but it’s important to understand that if it can happen anywhere then the things we keep saying like ‘wear a mask’ and ‘social distancing’ are essential,” he added. “It doesn’t have to be a high school graduation, it could be an Independence Day Event that you host at your home.” 

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