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COVID-19: Westchester, Rockland Declare States Of Emergency

Rockland and Westchester counties have declared a state of emergency due to the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Rockland and Westchester counties have declared a state of emergency due to the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered stricter guidelines in the midst of the growing novel coronavirus, Westchester and Rockland counties have both declared states of emergencies.

Rockland and Westchester counties both issued the declarations on Monday afternoon, March 16, which will run for at least 30 days.

Previously, states of emergency were declared in Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer instituted the order as the number of cases jumped to 220 and the worry of the health care system's ability to handle a large influx of people needing to be hospitalized. 

“Our society faces a challenge ahead of us that can only be compared to what was faced when wartime provisions were enacted in our nation," Latimer said. "Like then, we will overcome this. It may not be overnight – but it will be together. We must ensure we are doing all we can do protect all who live in this great County.”

In addition to the number of illnesses, Latimer is also concerned about the economic impact the virus will have on the community.

Both orders, which run in conjunction with the state order by Gov. Cuomo, close all public and private schools and suspend all extracurricular activities for two weeks beginning on Tuesday, March 17.

Both counties are working to provide food to students who will lose their school-provided feedings twice a day.

All universities, colleges, and other public and private educational facilities must also exclude students from those facilities before Wednesday, March 18.

Facilities that are solely dedicated to daycare, preschool, and pre-kindergarten are exempt from the order.

In Rockland, to prevent hoarding, the order limits shoppers to two bottles of hand sanitizer per day, said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. 

In addition, salad bar-style service in restaurants is banned. Those items should be pre-packaged.

The Rockland order also requires people who are awaiting test results to stay home and avoid interaction with the public until their test results are returned.

“We are taking these steps in service to the health and safety of our children and to ensure that all of our residents have a chance to purchase the medicine, soap, cleaning products, food, baby formula and even toilet paper that they need,” said Day.

Those who violate the orders could face fines up to $500 and even jail time or probation.

Violators of the sanitary codes such as not staying inside, when under quarantine, or selling items that are not pre-packaged, face up to a $2,000 per-day, per-violation fines under the Rockland County Sanitary Code. 

"We are serious when it comes to those who do not comply,' said Day.

Day also asked local stores to allow only older residents and those who have underlying health conditions to shop during the first hour they are open each day.

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