COVID-19

GOOD NEWS: NEW YORK WILL START RE-OPENING FRIDAY. BAD NEWS: NOT HERE IN WESTCHESTER…YET

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By Barrett Seaman

Ever the disciplined disciple of data, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at his Monday press briefing that three regions of the state appear to have met the seven metric criteria he established and can thus commence a partial re-opening of their economies on Friday, May 15.

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The Finger Lakes region, the Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border and the Mohawk Valley have reported that they are on track to meet all the standards. Two others, out of the ten regions designated by the state government, are close, having met six of the seven. Not there yet are the downstate regions, including the six counties labeled as the Mid-Hudson. They are Westchester, Putnam and Duchess on the eastern shore and Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties west of the Hudson. As a group—and the metrics are measured in aggregate for all six—they are still short in showing a sustained 14-day decline in both deaths and hospitalizations.

The seven metrics are:
1. 14-day decline in hospitalizations or fewer than 15 new hospitalizations (three-day average)
2. Two-week decline in hospitalized deaths or fewer than five new (three-day average)
3. New hospitalizations: under two-per-100,000 residents (three-day rolling average)
4. At least a 30% surplus of available hospital beds
5. A least 30% surplus in ICU beds available
6. Thirty tests per-1,000 residents each month or a seven-day average of new tests per day)
7. Thirty contact tracers per-100,000 residents.

In his briefing later that day, Westchester County Executive George Latimer reported continued improvement in most of the seven areas. While the cumulative number of infections in the county was 31,384, the number of active cases dropped by almost 300 to 3,377,” said Latimer, noting that active cases in the county had once been more than 11,000.

Westchester’s record for testing—a total of 112,663 or 11% of the county’s population—is one of the best in the country. Of the active cases as of Sunday night, Greenburgh, including its villages, registered 227. Dobbs Ferry has 60 active cases; Irvington has seven; Tarrytown has 30 and Sleepy Hollow has 34.

It was not clear from Latimer’s report how the county was doing in terms of hiring enough contact tracers to meet the governor’s goal, but he left the impression that the county still needs to recruit more. “We’re doing what we have to do get the contact tracers in place,” he said.

Asked how close the entire six-county region was to meeting Cuomo’s criteria, Latimer demurred. “We don’t know how the other counties are doing,” he replied. But given Westchester’s record to date, including on hospitalization and death rates, the implication left is that at least some of the other five are further behind.

For the first time on Monday, the state has made available a Regional Monitoring Dashboard that shows where each of the ten regions stands in terms of meeting the state’s seven criteria. Go to https://forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard to see how much further your region needs to go to begin re-opening.

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