Latimer Reports an Explosion of COVID Cases in Westchester
- Category: On Our Radar
- Published: Tuesday, 28 December 2021 17:45
- Joanne Wallenstein
Citing an explosion of COVID cases County Executive George Latimer held a press conference on Monday December 27 to review the numbers and provide information for the public on how they can access testing.
Latimer, who recently recovered from his own case of Omicron, said that the number of active cases in the county now stands at 16,819, a dramatic increase from about 4,000 cases a week ago. The current infection rate is 13.7% of those tested, up from 2% one month ago. In January 2021, the county reported 11,500 active cases, so cases are now at an all time high. He noted that these statistics only reflect numbers reported through the NYS testing system and do not include home tests, or counts of people who have not been tested at all.
How sick are people getting? Latimer reported that as of December 24, 2021, 214 people in the county were hospitalized due to COVID, up from 50 people on November 24. At the peak of the outbreak last year, 600 people were in the hospital suffering from COVID. Between November 24 and December 24, 2021 30 people passed away from COVID, up from seven people the prior month.
Latimer said, “We cannot deny the impact of COVID in the last few weeks… we saw what was coming and were more prepared.” In response, he “declared a state of emergency three weeks ago, increased vaccination satellite locations and tested many more people.”
He continued, “We have implemented a mask mandate – but we are not enforcing it. We are distributing masks to small businesses throughout the county. They reduce the likelihood that you’ll get COVID.”
About testing, he said, “There has been a tremendous increase in the demand for testing. In the NYS system, in the past two weeks we have had 180,000 tests, a 40% increase over the 128,000 people tested two weeks ago. In the two weeks before that there were 105,000 tests. We have ramped up testing significantly. This does not include at home tests.”
He explained “There is a shortage of tests available …. the county was given 40,000 test kits before Christmas and disseminated them right away. They were sent to EMS, fire, police and health departments to serve the public. The tests helped emergency workers to continue to do their jobs. We distributed the tests to 45 municipalities and let them determine how they could best be used.”
Responding to critics who said there was a shortfall on tests, he said, “There was a very quick increase in demand, in less than three weeks demand for tests has shot through the roof.”
“Over the last six weeks, 400,000 tests were administered. That’s almost half of the population of Westchester County. Some were angry that more tests were not available.” He thanked county personnel who picked up and distributed the testing kits making them available earlier.
Latimer then announced a new testing program at Westchester County Center for those who are experiencing symptoms. This testing will be by appointment only.
Here’s what you need to know:
Westchester County has partnered with Quadrant Biosciences to offer free PCR COVID-19 testing at the Westchester County Center starting Wednesday, December 29. Testing is for anyone experiencing symptoms or anyone who has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC recommends being tested 5 to 7 days after exposure to test. The testing is not for travel.
Appointments are required – walk-ins will not be accepted. The testing is for all ages, including infants. To schedule a test, go to www.westchestergov.com/health. Appointments will only be released 3 days in advance. Keep checking back, as appointments will be added every three days.
COVID-19 tests will be available as follows:
December 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
December 30, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
January 3, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
January 4, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
January 5, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
January 6, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
January 7, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
January 10, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
January 11, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Latimer also reported that the county has received KN95 masks from the state and they will be made available to municipal governments who will make decisions on how they can be distributed.
The County Executive announced that his own inauguration ceremony for his second term will be held virtually on January 3 at 2pm.