YORKTOWN, N.Y. - The town of Yorktown is limiting large gatherings in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
“After careful deliberation, the town believes the best course of action is implementing social distancing practices, which means limiting the opportunity for people to assemble in large groups,” said Town Supervisor Matt Slater at a press conference Thursday from inside town hall.
These actions include:
- CLOSING the Nutrition Center until Wednesday, April 1. However, the “Meals on Wheels” program for Yorktown seniors will be enhanced.
- SUSPENDING all extracurricular activity at the Albert A. Capellini Community and Cultural Center until Wednesday, April 1.
- RESTRICTING town staff visits to occupied homes for inspections or repairs except for emergencies until Wednesday, April 1.
- LIMITING capacity at the John C. Hart Memorial Library to 30 people at a time during operating hours until Wednesday, April 1.
- POSTPONING public hearings until April. However, governmental meetings will continue.
Large gatherings around the country, such as parades and sporting events, are also being canceled or postponed. Locally, many fundraising and youth sports events are suffering the same fate.
“You have people who were just seeing the NBA canceled and March Madness played without fans and they think it’s a massive overreaction,” said Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble. “It’s not. This is how you stop the spread of this virus.”
Still, Noble implored Yorktown residents to not overreact or panic. People can keep themselves safe, he said, by practicing good hygiene and good social practices.
“What we’re seeing over at the police department are people really worrying a little too much,” Noble said. “Is it a time where you should stop doing what you do in your normal daily activities? No. Go to your delis, go to your bagel stores, go to the market to pick up what you need. Just be smart.”
As of Thursday, Yorktown has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, the family member of a Lakeland student who lives in Cortlandt has tested positive for the virus, said Dr. George Stone, superintendent of Lakeland Schools.
“We did have a family on the Cortlandt side where there was a positive test for the virus with a family member,” Stone said. “We’re awaiting test results for the student, who [is] in quarantine… We have sanitized and disinfected our buildings from head to toe.”
Both Lakeland and Yorktown schools were closed Thursday* and will remain closed Friday for previously scheduled staff development days.
“We’re in a holding pattern at the moment,” Stone said. “And hopefully now that we have three or four days until Monday, we’ll be able to make some concrete decisions on where we are next week.”
Dr. Ron Hattar, superintendent of Yorktown Schools, said the district began disinfecting its buildings weekly on Jan. 6 to combat the spread of influenza. Since Feb. 24, schools are being disinfected daily and school buses (owned by Bauman and Sons) are being disinfected weekly.
Though nothing has been formally announced, Hattar said there is an “inevitability” that the virus will affect the high school spring sports seasons.
“When a school closure is initiated, all activities associated with the school closure are also canceled,” Hattar said. “So, minimum practice requirements may not necessarily be met. So, while no formal decision has been issued from Section 1, there is going to inevitably be an impact as more positive cases emerge in the region and districts have to call off school. Inherent in that closure is a cancellation of athletic activities.”
Slater said he also consulted with local religious organizations.
“We can’t mandate them to stop holding services or programming, but they’re well aware of the situation, they’re well aware of where the town stands and I think are many are actively exploring what options they have before them to make sure they’re congregations are properly cared for but safe,” Slater said.