By Barrett Seaman—
The numbers are not alarming; New York State remains one of the least infected in the country, despite the flare-ups in what Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken to labeling “Red Zones.” These 20 zip codes, primarily in New York City, Rockland and Orange counties, had positivity rates just under five percent last week. Excluding those areas, the state average was 1.07%.
Seldom without a response at the ready, Cuomo announced that he is deploying 400,000 “rapid result test kits” to every county in the state—tests that will yield results in 15 minutes, instead of several days, as they do not need to be sent to a lab for analysis.
Cuomo also launched a program requiring that 20% of all students, teachers and staff of schools conducting in-person teaching in so-called “Yellow Zones” be tested once a week. These test results will be included in the COVID Report Card dashboard. Anyone wishing to know how each school is faring can find out by going to: https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov/#/home.
While some solace can be taken in observing that none of the troublesome Red or Yellow Zones are in Westchester County, there is cause for some concern in the trend line locally. For the first four days of last week, the testing average in the Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Westchester, was the only one of ten regions in the state with a positive count at 2 percent or higher—largely because of the spikes in Rockland and Orange Counties. On Friday, it dipped down to 1.5%.
Still, going into the weekend, Westchester was reporting 76 new cases. The rivertowns of Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, which for much of August and the first half of September collectively had fewer than 20 active cases at any given time, have been reporting between 30 and 40 active cases over the past week.
The uptick is regional. White House Corona Task Force member Dr. Deborah Birx was quoted on Friday as saying that she has seen signs of a “silent spread” in the Northeast, the result, she suggested, of numerous small, private gatherings, rather than from “superspreaders” emanating from schools, businesses or public events. She advised people in the Mid-Atlantic and New England to increase vigilance on social distancing and wearing face coverings—advice one would think would have taken hold by now.