Westchester has been among the counties hit hardest by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 3,000 confirmed cases of the virus just three weeks after the first positive test in New Rochelle.
County Executive George Latimer provided an update on Monday afternoon, March 23, to provide details of how the virus has impacted residents in every Westchester community since the initial outbreak earlier this month and what communities have been the hardest hit in terms of the number of cases.
“This really began in mid-February, leading into March, when the first hospitalization happened in Westchester,” Latimer said. “We call him the index patient. Only 22 days after the original patient was identified, now you see what we’re dealing with.”
In Westchester, there have now been 2,894 confirmed cases of COVID-19, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, trailing only New York City’s 12,305 cases.
“Originally, Westchester was the leader for the most cases in New York State, when it was identified as a hotspot,” Latimer said. “The rest of the state is starting to catch up to us, and New York City is now well ahead of us.
“The hardest to find communities are now finding that they have positive cases as well. This is a pandemic. This contagion is not going to jump by a small hamlet any more than it would New York City.”
In Westchester, Latimer said the most positive cases are in:
- New Rochelle (223);
- Yonkers (145);
- Mount Vernon (70);
- White Plains (54);
- Greenburgh (43);
- Scarsdale (35);
- Eastchester (31);
- Port Chester (28);
- Cortlandt (25);
- Mount Pleasant (22)
Latimer also announced some changes to Bee-Line bus services, which has dropped fares for riders, who now will have to enter through the back of the bus to prevent any spread to drivers.
Additionally, the Westchester County Center will serve as a temporary space for healthcare professionals to run a 250-bed hospital in advance of an assumed spike in coronavirus cases.
Latimer noted that other county-owned spaces, such as Rye Playland are being evaluated as potential temporary locations for doctors treating the virus.
“The Westchester County Center is now a source for temporary hospital services,” he said. “It will be used as a space for additional hospital beds for those suffering from coronavirus. Hospitals are preparing for a surge, and the most vulnerable may need hospital beds.”
Cuomo noted that the state has been busy securing emergency supplies for hospital workers, including 339,760 N-95 masks; 861,700 surgical masks; 353,500 gloves; 145,122 gowns and 197,085 face shields.
“We need to increase hospital capacity as quickly as we can so that at the apex of the wave you have the hospital capacity to take care of the vulnerable people we’ve been talking about,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to control the spread of the virus, but you can reduce the rate of the spread so that you can handle it in your hospital system.”
New York’s 20,875 cases - which resulted in 157 deaths - are more than ten times more New Jersey (1,914 cases); California (1,849); Washington (1,844) and Illinois (1,049). Of the 20,875 cases in New York, 2,645 (13 percent) were hospitalized, with 621 patients in the ICU.
Latimer noted that the now-reported 20,875 positive tests come just three weeks after the first positive test.
“We’re in a period of time where the contagion is growing and we have to slow that growth to help save lives. All of that is a justification of the measures we’ve taken.”
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