Nineteen people in Westchester have died from COVID-19, according to statistics released today by County Executive George Latimer.
Latimer reported that Westchester County has conducted more COVID-19 testing per capita than any other place in the U.S. Latimer’s office did some calculations using the statistics it had that were current as of March 29 and found that 32,513 of the county’s 980,244 residents had been tested for the virus. That represented 3.3% of the population. Of the total tested, 26% were positive, resulting in 8,519 cases.
The March 30 statistics released by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo showed that the number of cases stood at 9,326 with 34,108 people tested. That represented a slight increase in the percentage of the population tested to 3.4% along with a slight increase in the percentage testing positive to 27%.
Latimer said that the state Health Department has determined that the auxiliary hospital facility being installed at the Westchester County Center will only be able to accommodate 100 beds, about half of what had been proposed.
He said that based on approximately 3,000 hospital beds in the county, the state’s requirement that hospitals increase capacity by at least 50% and the 100 beds at the County Center, Westchester will have 4,600 hospital beds available to cope with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Unknown is just how big that surge will be.
Latimer said they’re working to identify sites for additional hospital capacity. He said whether there would be sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators is unknown.
“How many health care professionals will we need? That’s an open-ended number and it will depend on the case load,” Latimer said. “We want to have one doctor per so many people, one nurse to a smaller group of people and so that you have the proper care.”
Latimer said that the county’s needs aren’t dependent on just what happens within its borders.
“We also have to look at the fact that there will be a sick patient overflow. If Rockland County, if Orange County, if Dutchess and Putnam County have an overflow, if New York City has an overflow, any available bed will be used for any sick patient,” Latimer said. “We certainly can’t look at this as ‘well, within Westchester we have a wall built around Westchester.’”
Latimer said that the breakout of case numbers his office has received for each municipality in Westchester shows a correlation between the number of cases and the size of the populations. He again pointed out that even though the numbers received from the state are a couple of days old, they do seem to be in proportion to the number of people concentrated in each community.
Latimer said that the Bee-Line bus service is being cut back to what is being termed enhanced Saturday service.
“Ridership is down dramatically. We have suspended collecting bus fares on the route. We know that we’re going to lose dollars for that. That’s not as important as saving lives,” Latimer said. He explained hat they have already cordoned-off the front of each bus to separate the driver from the passengers.
“The volume on these bus routes is so low that they (passengers) can socially distance themselves when you have five and seven riders along the back portion of the bus whether it’s the 40-foot bus or the longer articulated buses,” Latimer said.
He said people wanting to ride the buses can find revised schedules on westchestergov.com.