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COVID-19: Student Returning From Florida Tests Positive After Westchester HS Graduation

Horace Greeley High School
Horace Greeley High School Photo Credit: File photo

The New York State Department of Health is investigating potential novel coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure at a high school graduation ceremony in Westchester County from a student who recently returned from Florida and later tested positive.

On Saturday, June 27, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the NYSDOH to investigate the potential of COVID-19 exposure associated with a Horace Greeley High School drive-in graduation ceremony held on June 20 at Chappaqua Train Station in Northern Westchester. 

The individual who had recently traveled to Florida and attended the ceremony subsequently began showing symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19. 

Since then, four more individuals who attended the ceremony and had contact with the first positive case have also tested positive, the state said. 

All individuals who have tested positive are currently self-isolating.

In addition to the graduation ceremony, the student participated in a non-school related "Field Night" event on Saturday, June 20, which was also attended by juniors and seniors and students from surrounding school districts. 

Individuals who attended the graduation ceremony, Field Night event, or events associated with graduation, which continued into Sunday, June 21, should extend their quarantine period until Sunday, July 5, the state said.

The New York State DOH and the Westchester County Health Department are working with officials from Horace Greeley to identify all individuals who attended the graduation ceremony and any subsequent gatherings where they may have been exposed. 

The New York State Contact Tracing Program will be reaching out to identified individuals and anyone who attended the ceremony or subsequent gatherings should get tested.

As part of our public health outreach, the State and County DOH encourages testing for anybody who attended the graduation ceremony or the Field Night event and may have come in contact with an infected individual. For information about testing, contact your local healthcare provider, or visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

Cuomo also issued a new executive order that makes New York employees who voluntarily travel to high-risk states after Thursday, June 25 ineligible for COVID-19 paid sick leave.

"New Yorkers have controlled the spread of this unprecedented virus by being smart and disciplined, and our progress to date is illustrated by the current low numbers of new cases and hospitalizations," Cuomo said. "But as we are seeing in other states who reopened quickly, the pandemic is far from over and we need to stay vigilant. 

"We're prepared to do the aggressive testing and contact tracing required to slow and ultimately control any potential clusters of new cases like the one in Westchester County. 

"If we are going to maintain the progress we've seen, we need everyone to take personal responsibility."

In mid-June, New York State DOH issued guidance to ensure any district that decides to host a graduation ceremony adheres to appropriate protective measures including:

  • social distancing,
  • limitations on number of attendees,
  • wearing face coverings,
  • and other precautions. 

Part of the DOH investigation will be to determine whether the guidance had been followed, the state said.

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