Coronavirus Update - March 24, 2020
Numbers first! Or, perhaps better, first, a word about the numbers. It is difficult to understand the numbers. This is because the numbers speak to both the spread of COVID-19 and the increase in testing for the virus. It is also because the numbers we get are time-lagged: our numbers are compiled originally by New York State, held while those who have tested positive are notified, and then passed on to the County and to us. The State releases fresh, immediately current bulk totals. We can offer solid City numbers, but they are inevitably dated by the time they get to us. With that explanation out of the way, key numbers are: County cases (as of yesterday) - 2,894, of which 42 were hospitalized and 18 in ICU; City of Rye (today's report) - 15 confirmed cases, residing at 13 locations. But, take this information with the required grains of salt.
There are now multiple testing sites in Westchester, including at Glen Island, in Valhalla and at a growing number of other facilities. If you think you should be tested, please consult your physician or contact the County by phone, 888-364-3065 or 211, or visit the County's information website, COVID19FAQ@westchestergov.com. There are still delays in access to testing.
Given the reporting delays and the testing delays, it remains important, if you need to call for emergency assistance and you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, that you let 911 know of your potential exposure. Please do this so that our first responders can take appropriate precautions.
Our City continues to respond well to the constrained circumstances we now share with many parts of the country. I see us all pulling together to make this community sacrifice effective. I assure you: your City government really, really wants to make things better, not worse. If we take a necessary step that limits a City service, as we did with garbage collection, we trust that residents do understand that we need to protect our employees and our ability to continue to provide services over time. Our employees are deemed "essential" and therefore are at work. But essential does not mean invulnerable!
Understanding that it may take time to adapt to the new garbage pickup schedule, DPW will put a garbage truck by the Disbrow Park recycling center from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday (but not on holidays). Residents may toss their bagged garbage in. Green waste may be bagged and left at the curb, but pickup will be when DPW has staff available, not weekly. DPW anticipates that green waste pickup may be every 2 to 3 weeks. Those needing DPW supplies (recycling bins, food scrap supplies, etc.) may purchase through the online Recycling Store on the City website.
Times, of course, are harsh for our local merchants. The City has waived metered parking fees at central business district lots for a period, in the hope that this may help those businesses able to offer services by permitted means. The Chamber of Commerce is looking at a variety of initiatives. Please visit the Chamber website and individual merchant websites.
Times also may be economically harsh for many of us, including the City. Our Interim City Manager and Finance Committee are studying the situation and will be making recommendations to the City Council. We are fortunate to have , in-house, this financial expertise. There will be more to say on this topic as the economic picture clears. Individuals suffering financially may seek assistance from a number of agencies, including the County Department of Social Services, which is accepting applications through MyBenefits.com.
The census is in process. Please respond to it! The current emergency makes it ever more important that Rye is fully represented in the new census numbers that will guide fiscal allocations in years to come.
I mentioned in a prior message possible temporary, emergency uses of the Playland parking lot. Con Ed has placed its temporary crew quarters elsewhere. The County temporary hospital will be constructed in the County Center. The parking lot remains just that, at least for now.
Speaking of the County, we are grateful for the County's effort, led by George Latimer, to support County residents, businesses and local governments.
The doctors tell us that if we could all just remain in our own homes for two weeks, we would stop the pandemic cold. Well, we can't all quite manage that, but let's all please continue to try to do our best -- with the thought that the harder we try, the shorter our trying time will be.
Mayor Josh Cohn