Continuing Precautions Urged as “We Adapt to the Strangeness”
By Brian Zhang
In this week’s briefing on COVID-19, County Executive George Latimer delivered another encouraging message that the Coronavirus numbers “continue to show the dimension we’ve been talking about for quite a while.”
According to Latimer, 347,649, or 35%, of people in Westchester County have been tested for Coronavirus, and despite the rise in testing, numbers are at an all-time low of 467 active cases since the pandemic began.
“That’s a significant number,” he stated, “We’re seeing steadily every day 3,000 or 4,000 tests in Westchester County since testing is much easier to obtain now than it ever has been before.”
In Chappaqua, an earlier spike due to the Horace Greeley High School graduation and field day, has “run its course.” Now a month since the incident, there have been no new cases identified in the past week. The same goes for the 4th of July weekend. Now two weeks past the holiday, the period of incubation for the Coronavirus, there has been no spike in cases, which is a good sign, Latimer noted.
However, similar to last week’s briefing, the county executive stressed, “there is nothing to be overly confident about. I say that very dispassionately with a corporate mindset. We are doing well, but we’re not through the woods. We still have no understood vaccine to treat the disease. Nor do we have an antiviral treatment for the disease.”
He urged residents to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize our hands, and refrain from activities that can put people in harm’s way.
In other news, the county has been having meetings for reopening schools across Westchester this fall, including K-12 and college to help the local education institutions meet protocols set down by the state and open safely.
“You can imagine each of those two different types of education has different challenges,” Latimer conveyed, “On the K-12 side, you’re dealing with children whose ability to follow certain restrictions and orders is much more difficult than older students,” he explained.
“When you get to the college level, you’re dealing with students who are on campus in a dorm setting, and that overnight residential setting crates other types of problems than in a K-12 situation. In working with each of those, we’re trying to put together a practical group of people to work with.”
As of now, Latimer reported a “working group” that has been developed for the local school districts will include the deputy commissioner of mental health, White Plains School Superintendent, and some others in the Department of Health.
“They’ll all be working as a task force with our local elementary schools to try to provide that assistance that the schools need from the county. Whether it’s the structure in contact tracing protocols, what to do in situations when someone in the school tests positive, or assisting in purchasing personal protective equipment, all of those things and many more are part of those efforts we’re in the process of serving.”
The school situation is very complicated, said Latimer, and in need of great vigilance. “We’re dealing with a public service that probably touches more homes than any other single one because the community involves the school and the homes of which students live in. This could be an area for the great spread of the disease if we’re not exceedingly careful.”
“Overall, we’re looking at trying to deal with this strange world and adapt to the strangeness of it. I think we’ve tried to do that effectively now into our fifth month.”
According to the County Executive, the governor will announce on August 7 whether schools will open up and if so, under what circumstances.
Brian Zhang, a Byram Hills High School student, is an aspiring journalist, and summer intern for the Inside Press.