New Yorkers started off the week with good news — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced
a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, beginning with all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older on March 30, and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older beginning Tuesday, April 6.
“Today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID,” said Mr. Cuomo at a press conference to announce the vaccine program expansion.
The move toward universal eligibility puts the state ahead of President Joseph Biden’s goal to make every adult in the U.S. eligible for vaccination no later than May 1. It also puts local leaders coordinating the frontline vaccination response on an accelerated timeline. During a COVID-19 press briefing March 29, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said he was “going to try to make vaccinations easily available” for everyone who wants one. Mr. Latimer said the county would continue to operate “specialized vaccination opportunities” for communities facing barriers to access, including senior citizens, low-income earners, people of color and English-language learners.
Mr. Latimer said Westchester County has vaccinated a total of 200,860 at its county-run sites. Approximately 144,252 vaccinations were given at the Westchester County Center, 25,102 at the Yonkers Armory, and 28,775 at its two clinic sites (one at Westchester County Community College and the other in White Plains).
Ken Jenkins, Westchester County deputy executive, gave an update on vaccine allocation to local vaccination sites, including health clinics or neighborhood pharmacies. “There are many, many new pharmacies that have been added,” Mr. Jenkins said. According to county data, Paul’s Pharmacy in South Salem, for example, was allocated 100 vaccines for week 16 of distribution; Westchester Health in Katonah was allocated 100 doses; and Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco was allocated 1,570.
The state’s vaccine dashboard also provides a snapshot of vaccines administered at the municipality level. For example, it showed a total of 909 vaccine doses have been administered to Pound Ridge residents. The dashboard also reports 1,133 administered doses in Bedford, 917 in Bedford Hills and 2,239 in Katonah. The hamlets in Lewisboro report a combined total of 1,725 doses administered — 1,080 in South Salem, 427 in Goldens Bridge and 218 in Waccabuc.
Although the rollout of vaccines is encouraging, Mr. Latimer said residents still need to exercise discipline and “a little self-denial” at this stage. “We’re still very much in the middle of this pandemic, we are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
Since March 22, 2020, approximately 118,964 in Westchester County have tested positive for COVID-19. The county’s COVID-19 tracker reports 5,581 active cases as of March 30.
In the county as well as nationally, case numbers, while down from their January peaks, remain at relatively high levels. Public health experts have cited the spread of highly contagious variants and the loosening of some state restrictions as factors. Importantly, at the same time, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths have been trending lower.
Nearly 30% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 15% are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York’s vaccination program has given shots to more than 30% of its residents.
Northern Westchester Hospital has been operating one of the largest vaccination programs in the area, mainly at its facility located at Chappaqua Crossing. To date, the hospital has administered about 8,000 doses at its community vaccination pods, according to Dr. Marla Koroly, senior vice president of medical affairs
“In addition to providing access to all eligible populations, we have focused on reaching out to the underserved in our community to ensure that we are reaching populations which may otherwise have limited access to schedule appointments,” Dr. Koroly told The Record-Review. “We partnered with the mayor of Mount Kisco and the governor’s office to run vaccination programs at the Fox Senior Center in Mount Kisco and have also worked with Neighbors Link,” she said.
NWH is part of Northwell Health, which Dr. Koroly said “is in the process of creating policies and procedures around vaccinating children ages 16 and 17.” She said Northwell “will ensure that our processes are in place before we start administering to this population.”
Approximately 75% of Northern Westchester Hospital staff has been vaccinated to date, according to Dr. Koroly, who is also Northwell’s chief medical officer in Westchester. “We continue to offer the vaccine to team members,” she said.
In addition, since December 2020, she reported that NWH has provided nearly 1,000 outpatient monoclonal antibody treatments to community members who have COVID-19. These outpatients are treated in the field hospital set up on the main NWH campus in Mount Kisco.
There are several options for eligible residents to make an appointment to receive the vaccine at the New York State Department of Health’s website, covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov, which lists appointments available at the state-run vaccination sites such as the County Center.
The Northwell Health website, northwell.edu/covidvaccine, lists appointments that are available at sites being administered by a Northwell facility, including Northern Westchester Hospital.
The hospital also continues to administer COVID-19 diagnostic testing at its facility in Chappaqua Crossing, located at 480 Bedford Road, Chappaqua. Community members do not need a prescription for testing, but they do need to schedule an appointment. Results are usually returned in one to three days.
More information about the hospital’s testing and other COVID-19 programs, including links to coronavirus updates by senior hospital staff members, can be found at nwh.northwell.edu.