Yorktown declared a state of emergency on Friday, March 13, one day after Supervisor Matt Slater confirmed a Yorktown resident had tested positive for COVID-19.
At a Town Board meeting held the morning of Friday, March 13, the Town Board unanimously passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency for the town due to "imperiled public safety." The town also canceled all meetings for the rest of March, including upcoming volunteer board meetings, Town Board meetings and public meetings held in town buildings.
The state of emergency will allow the government to continue to operate and allow the supervisor to make emergency decisions without holding meetings, Slater said.
“This is just moving so fast, if I need to make a split-second decision and we need to implement something immediately, we now have the authority to do it without having to go through the process of calling an emergency meeting, gathering board members, trying to get it televised, so on and so forth,” Slater said. “There’s a lot of steps that go into that, proper notice, so it short circuits the whole process. If we are in a position where we have to make an immediate decision and we have to implement something immediately, we can do it right then and there. That is what this allows us to do. I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to that, but I’d rather be prepared.”
Slater emphasized that though a state of emergency for Yorktown was declared, it does not impact everyday life or town operations.
“I just want to be crystal clear with everyone at home, you’re still able to drive, we’re not shutting down the roads,” Slater said at the meeting. “Everything continues to move, we’re just reserving the ability to take action if we deem necessary. Town government is open. Protocol and operations remain the same.”
First responders have also taken precautions: Empress Ambulance Company (in Yonkers), which has a previously existing contract with the town and serves various municipalities in Westchester County, will exclusively respond to flu-like related emergency calls. Slater and Police Chief Robert Noble stated that Yorktown Volunteer Ambulance Corps currently do not have the resources to decommission an ambulance for up to four hours for sanitization if they should respond to a COVID-19 case.
Town Court has also taken caution and has limited scheduled court and jury cases.
Town Justice Salvatore Lagonia said that the court is currently reviewing federal cases that have time constraints to ensure necessary trials take place within appropriate timeframes, but are hoping to limit cases to 10 hearings at a time.
Slater also advised the public to be wary of rumors on social media.
“We expect significant changes coming on a daily and possibly hourly basis, but we are committed to providing any and all information that is accurate, verified and within the bounds of the law,” Slater said.