Westchester Looks To Increase Hospital Space, Distribute Food After Surge Of Cases

WCBS 880 Newsroom
March 26, 2020 - 4:25 pm

VALHALLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Westchester County hospitals are still looking to increase capacity as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge in the area and food banks are looking to get creative in distribution methods.

County Executive George Latimer told WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace on Thursday that there’s almost 6,000 cases in the county.

“Our numbers are increasing, we’re just shy of 6,000 positive cases in Westchester County. That is concerning because we know that if a certain percentage of that number gets seriously sick, and potentially violently sick, we don’t necessarily have in place ready the physical health services to satisfy them,” Latimer said.

He says Westchester is moving quickly to create more hospital space for those sickened by coronavirus.

“We’ve identified additional other places that might satisfy for hospital purposes. Right now, we have about 3,000 beds in Westchester County. The governor has given a mandate to hospitals all across the state to increase their capacity by 50%, so if that happens in Westchester, that would put us up to 4,500 beds,” the county executive said.

Latimer notes that many people are abiding by the social distancing rules and “people understand that this is a matter of life and death.”

He agreed with Cuomo, noting that the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by the Senate is not great for New York State, and Westchester will need a significant amount of money to recover.

“If it’s insufficient financially and it doesn’t do the job, then they’ll have to do something additional later in the year, but for right now, we’re hopeful for whatever aid we can get,” Latimer said.

Latimer notes that businesses are suffering and people still need supplies.

To help some in the county, food banks in the area hosted a drive-through food pick up at Westchester Community College.

“Cars pull up, we put the groceries in the trunk and close the trunk and the car drives away,” said Matt Honeycut, of Feeding Westchester.

According to WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman, the distribution at the college went on for about three hours and more than 600 cars showed up.

“I asked people to pick up what they need to get them through about three or five days, maybe a little more. We're putting shelf stable products. We're putting in, sometimes it's chicken or pork, depending on what we have in the freezer,” Honeycut explained.

Rules about gathering in numbers prevent people from coming in to the warehouse.

Last week they tried this inside their building, but 1,200 cars pulled up and traffic was a mess. It ultimately had to be shut down.

Sugerman says things went much smoother at the community college and they hope to do it again maybe a couple of times a week in the future.

Meanwhile, those who want to help serve the Westchester community can send an email to icanhelp@westchestergov.com.

“Whatever their talent is, whatever they may have as something they can donate, we welcome it gratefully,” Latimer said. “We’ve had a very great spirit in this county of people who are philanthropic and will volunteer efforts and we think we can call on that again to help us get through this.”