Q: Putnam County has met the positivity rate and number of cases criteria to go “yellow” under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s guidelines, which would require schools to conduct testing of students and staff and impose other restrictions. Why hasn’t the county gone yellow?
A: By those two measures — the positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average and the number of cases per 100,000 residents — Putnam would have entered the yellow zone on Nov. 19 and the orange zone on Nov. 23. But the state also considers other metrics such as hospital admissions; population density; the age of those testing positive; the effectiveness of contact tracing; and whether outbreaks involve facilities such as nursing homes, colleges or prisons.
Putnam County said late last month that it is trying to get more guidance about whether the county would be designated as yellow or orange as a whole or if the designation would apply only to specific areas or ZIP codes.
“The governor’s mention [on Nov. 23] of Brewster ‘nearing yellow-zone designation’ confirms that our request to view Putnam County on a hyper-local level is a necessity,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell in a statement on Nov. 24.
Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, the county health commissioner, said Putnam “has seen a sharp rise in positive cases related to social gatherings and parties. The spike that is occurring locally is a result of our actions. Whether you are in closer proximity to Brewster, or you are further west, nearer to Peekskill, it is clear that our numbers are rising, and we all must make responsible choices to keep our families and our neighbors safe.”
|Non-essential gatherings||25 people max||10 people max||Prohibited|
|Houses of worship||50% capacity||33% capacity (25 max)||25% capacity (10 max)|
(gyms, salons, etc.)
|Schools||Weekly testing||Remote only||Remote only|
Update, Dec. 11
On Friday, Cuomo announced new metrics to determine micro-cluster focus zones and changes to restrictions.
■ Hospitals must remain under 85 percent capacity, either by adding up to 25 percent of beds, reducing or eliminating elective surgeries, or both.
■ As of Monday (Dec. 14), indoor dining will be suspended in New York City.
An area will be eligible to enter a Yellow Zone if it has a 3 percent positivity rate (7-day average) over the past 10 days and is in the top 10 percent in the state for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and is experiencing week-over-week growth in daily admissions.
A geographic area will be eligible to enter an Orange Zone if it has a 4 percent positivity rate (7-day average) over the last 10 days and it is located in a region that has reached 85 percent hospital capacity. Alternatively, a geographic area may also become an Orange Zone if the state Department of Health determines the area or region’s rate of hospital admissions is unacceptably high and a zone designation is appropriate to control the rate of growth.
A red zone will be implemented in a region where hospital capacity is within 21 days of reaching 90 percent, even after the cancellation of elective procedures and a 50 percent increase in bed capacity in hospitals in the region.
The state also changed the criteria for gyms and personal care services in micro-cluster zones. Beginning Dec. 14 gyms and fitness centers in Orange Zones will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity. Personal care services (e.g., salons and barbershops) in Orange Zones will be allowed to open as long as the employees performing services are tested weekly for COVID-19.
So, when will we hear about closing everything down? Meaning indoor dining, etc. and for how long? Is this inevitable for Putnam in the next week? What about unemployment benefits? Will there be any additional assistance, much needed, in the near future? We need to know!