Westchester County exec declares state of emergency over COVID as holidays approach

George Latimer
George Latimer Photo credit Tania Savayan/The Journal News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Westchester County is under a new COVID state of emergency as cases continue to climb.

By declaring a state of emergency on Monday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer is putting residents on notice to be careful and responsible, especially for the holidays.

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"Try to avoid large gatherings of people. We try to make sure that when we have small gatherings of people there's reasonable social distancing. If the people are not directly related to each other, living in the same house with each other, in which case social distancing is not possible, that there is mask wearing," Latimer said. "The hand of government does not reach into your bedroom or your living room, so it's really up to you to understand that if you're having some people over and it looks uncomfortable to have masks on, well, you know, you'd better make sure they're vaccinated."

"One of the unfortunate realities is most of the virus spread comes in non-public interactions," Latimer added.

The emergency declaration is a preemptive move in an attempt to nip the next COVID surge in the bud and comes as the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Westchester County have nearly tripled in the past month.

The state of emergency gives Latimer the power to take action if need be.

If COVID-19 cases continue to mount, Latimer said the next step would be a mask requirement and proof of vaccination for certain settings.

"The mandates on masks is probably the first line of conversation that's going to happen, but again the purpose is not to be punitive or make a social statement, the purpose is to stop the spread," Latimer said.