Westchester News

Two Weeks, Zero Westchester COVID Deaths — And Other Good News

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October 20, 2021

By Barrett Seaman—

It would be foolish not to be cautious in our optimism, given the setbacks and surges that have repeatedly dashed hope that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is at hand. But it’s hard to ignore the flattening of the delta variant-powered infection curve over the past month — the county seven-day positive test rate is now 1 percent. And it’s hard to ignore the steady rise in vaccinations — especially the bump up that followed state, federal and private sector vaccine mandates.

Two numbers tossed out like life rings by County Executive George Latimer at his weekly COVID briefing on Monday are particularly heartening:

As of this weekend, 90 percent of eligible Westchester residents had had at least one dose of a vaccine and almost two-thirds were fully vaccinated.

Going back 12 days, there had not been a single COVID death in Westchester. That streak has continued to 14 days.

Health officials are quick to note that autumn is now here; doors and windows are shuttering, increasing the risk of transmission. But as County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler pointed out on Monday, federal agencies are poised to approve booster doses for Moderna and Johnson&Johnson within a couple of weeks, and reduced dosages for children under 12 are also expected to be approved soon.

Equally encouraging is the level of cooperation between the county and its 40 independent school districts, most of which are voluntarily participating (along with 16 private schools) in a COVID testing program that, even at this late stage of vaccination, will help identify cases early enough to keep classrooms from shutting down.

Amler’s First Deputy, Renee Recchia announced that three of the area’s established testing labs will be processing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests for thousands of students. Dr Amler added that the highly accurate PCR method is no longer done using a swab that feels like it has gone up the nostril and into one’s brain but rather a far gentler saliva test.

There’s even more encouraging news coming from the state level, where Governor Kathy Hochul has introduced an entirely revamped COVID data base that has cleaned up and reorganized what had become an impenetrable maze of numbers across multiple state and local agencies. On Monday, Hochul announced the launch of a new centralized website for New York State COVID-19 data. This website includes new data as well as a reorganization of previously released data to make it easier for the public to access, read and understand. In addition, more COVID-19 data is now being made available on Health Data NY.

If you remain skeptical that progress is real, check out the numbers.

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