Local Departments of Health remain vigilant

ALBANY — New York surged to the lead in the country in diagnosed coronavirus cases Monday as the virus continued to spread, particularly within a small community in Westchester County.

As of Monday, the number of positive cases jumped from 105 on Sunday to 142 — largely in Westchester. That was at least one more than in Washington state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

On Tuesday, Cuomo accepted the recommendation of State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker for new emergency measures to contain the novel coronavirus cluster in New Rochelle. The area currently has 108 confirmed cases and is considered a "cluster." The protocols include closing schools, houses of worship and other large gathering facilities within a one-mile radius in New Rochelle for a two-week period, from Thursday, March 12th to Wednesday, March 25th. 

Steuben, Allegany and Livingston counties remain vigilant.

The Allegany County Dept. of Health on Monday said four adult individuals from two different households have been tested for COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution. All four individuals are staying homebound within the parameters set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

"We have been preparing for this situation for the last several weeks," said Theresa Moore, Supervising Public Health Educator/Public Information Officer. "We are responding quickly and comprehensively to prevent potential future exposures to ensure public health and safety. Public Health officials have interviewed the tested individuals to assess recent contacts and will continue the investigative chain. We will update the public as the situation develops."

In Livingston County, the Livingston County Department of Health continues to closely monitor those who may be at risk for getting COVID-19. The department is in contact with a Livingston County  man who is currently in mandatory isolation as he was potentially in close contact (6 ft.) with someone who is positive for COVID-19 as per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The patient currently has symptoms. The Livingston County Department of Health is testing and monitoring this individual closely as a safety measure and a preventive step to contain the virus in the interest of the public’s health.

The individual will be released from COVID-19 isolation once he is considered to not be a risk for spreading the virus to others as per the CDC’s guidance.

“The Livingston County Department of Health is actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed. We understand this is a time of great uncertainty, and we appreciate the cooperation from the Livingston County community as we continue to work to slow the spread of COVID-19,” stated Jennifer Rodriguez, Public Health Director.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the growing number of coronavirus cases in New Rochelle in Westchester a significant problem, saying he expects schools there could be closed for a period of weeks.

Most of the New York cases are in New Rochelle, tied to an Orthodox Jewish community where a lawyer was the first case in the region nearly a week ago. Nursing homes there have been closed to visitors.

"New Rochelle is a significant hotspot even if you look at the overall map of the United States," Cuomo said at a briefing Monday.

The numbers in Westchester increased by 16 to 98 positive cases compared to 19 in New York City and 17 in Nassau County.

Rockland County had two more cases, up to four overall.

How coronavirus is spreading in New York

Cuomo said state health officials will be talking with the Centers for Disease Control on how to limit the spread in New Rochelle, which is now one of the largest hot spots in the nation.

Public schools, which are largely still open, will likely be closed for a period of weeks, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. Already, schools in nearby Scarsdale closed schools until March 18.

"In Westchester what happened was there was a number of large gatherings, several hundred people, and it transmitted through that congregation," Cuomo said Monday.

"But this is the hotspot, one of the hotspots, nationally by the way, is the New Rochelle hotspot. So it makes the point about how it can communicate in gatherings and why people have to be careful."

Local government officials remain vigilant. Any resident experiencing a fever, with cough or shortness of breath should call your health care provider (don’t show up at their office before calling). If symptoms are severe, call 911.

"The ACDOH has been working diligently with our various County partners, including our County Office of Emergency Services (OES), local healthcare associates, educational institutions and local emergency management planners, to ensure the County is prepared and ready for any threat to Allegany County residents," Moore said. 

Coronavirus spreads to first top New York official

Rick Cotton, executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has contracted coronavirus, Cuomo said, and will work from home as he recovers.

Cuomo said Cotton's staff will also now be tested.

“He is going to be on quarantine. He will be working at home," Cuomo said. "He’s the executive director of the Port Authority, so he’s been at the airports, obviously, when many people were coming back with the virus.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo said New York will be making its own hand sanitizer, NYS Clean, to address the shortage nationwide through Corcraft, the state's prison manufacturing company.

The product will be make available free of charge to state and local governments, schools and prisons, he said.

"This is also much less expensive than anything government could buy," Cuomo said.