Westchester, New York, Officials See Early Signs Of A Flattened Curve

Officials told Newsy only around 100 new hospitalizations were reported last week, suggesting serious cases are declining.
Posted at 4:20 PM, Apr 16, 2020

It was one of the hardest-hit areas in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. 

“Five new cases of coronavirus in Westchester County.”

“The Manhattan lawyer has spread the virus now to dozens of people.”

A month later, officials in Westchester County, New York, tell Newsy they are starting to see glimmers of hope. 

“We have seen what I consider to be the outer edges of flattening the curve.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer says that’s based on a number of factors, including hospitalizations. 

“We have slightly under 1,200 people hospitalized right at this moment in Westchester County. But comparing it a week ago, we had about 1,100 people hospitalized. So that's only 100 additional hospitalizations."

Latimer says testing has been pivotal. 

“As it stands right now, we have just over 20,000 positive cases in Westchester County. We've tested over 60,000 people. And per capita, that's the most amount of testing that's going on in any jurisdiction in New York state."

On March 12, officials announced a containment zone in New Rochelle, the area’s hot spot, and days later brought in the National Guard to clean and hand out food. 

Some of those efforts seem to be paying off. Latimer says volunteer nurses are conducting contact tracing so the county can move forward.  

After a person tests positive for the virus, a nurse works to get in touch with all the people the infected patient may have come into contact with to warn them. But it hasn’t been easy. 

"We're still at 20,000 people. I look on TV, and I see Iowa has 150 cases of the whole state. At least, they say they do. If they're accurate, you know, they can trace 75, 50, 150  cases, you get up to 20,000 if a number grows further, it's just going to be very difficult.”

Another battle: health disparity. Like much of the country, certain areas are facing greater challenges.

"Cities like Mount Vernon and Yonkers with concentrated, dense populations, Port Chester, we have populations of those communities that are people of color, African American or Latino or both, you know, the spread is greater.”

Latimer says he wants to see more testing in those areas. Of the deaths in Westchester County, 36% were black, 35% Hispanic. 

Amber Strong, Newsy, in Northern Virginia.