With the beautiful spring weather, residents are naturally venturing outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and to release the stresses caused by 8 weeks of quarantine. We want people to go outdoors, and we must insist that they do so safely.
Following the lead of Westchester County, and similar to our neighboring communities, we are trying to get people to voluntarily comply with social distancing guidelines. When we see a cluster of people, New Castle police officers will address the situation by asking people to disband. When we see people who are too close and not wearing masks, our officers will remind them to wear a mask.
It’s discouraging and even infuriating to see residents flaunting the social distancing guidelines. Youth are not immune; parents must do their part to re-enforce this message: no playdates, no backyard parties, and masks must be worn.
Please keep in mind, this is a new way of living. Please be patient with one another as we occasionally forget to give 6 ft. of space, or to pull up our masks. A gentle correction is usually all it takes to remind our neighbors of what is required. That said, an aggressive unwillingness to follow social distancing guidelines will result in enforcement measures and/or additional closures of parks and other public spaces.
We don’t want to take that step – let’s hang in there and stay united in our collective efforts to thwart this virus. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Give 6 ft. of social distance. Avoid crowded areas. And remember, we are all in this together!
Statistics: Current Westchester Data
Westchester Cases: 30,240 (+213)
Westchester Tests: 101,497 (+1,662)
Westchester Fatalities: 1,116
New Castle Cases: 216
New York State Cases: 321,192 (+2,239)
New York State Tests: 1,028,899 (+21,399)
New York State Fatalities: 19,415 (+226)
We experienced a big jump in the number of positive cases in New Castle, however this is due to the State finally clearing a backlog of “unknown addresses.” Overall, these numbers continue to trend in the right direction, as they have been for several weeks. This is not a coincidence -- we reduced the spread of COVID-19 due to actions taken by the State, County, and your local government. You are responsible for flattening the curve – thank you New Castle!
Testing – Anitbody Testing and COVID-19 Tests
Over 100,000 residents in Westchester County have been tested for COVID-19, which is almost 10% of the total population. There are lots of opportunities for testing now and almost 70% of those who are tested are negative for COVID-19. On Monday, the County Executive announced that every patient in every nursing home in Westchester will be tested.
Antibody testing is currently being offered at the Westchester County Center for first responders. We are also hearing about antibody tests at a variety of locations, such as Caremount Medical Center urgent care locations and other medical centers in the County
Should you choose to be tested, please remember that antibody tests do not tell you if you are immune to the virus; they do not give you an indication that you can go back to work; they do not tell you when you can be in contact with others. The purpose of this testing is to determine whether you might be a potential plasma donor and to check for population-wide prevalence, for the purposes of public health research.
Regardless of the results, you MUST continue to adhere to the Governor’s Executive Orders regarding social distancing.
Governor Announces Phased Plan to Re-Open New York
While New York State is still on PAUSE, Governor Cuomo has outlined plans for regional re-openings. The state will monitor four core factors to determine if a region can re-open:
- New Infections: As measured by total net hospitalizations and deaths
- Health Care Capacity: As measured by total hospital and ICU beds available, and personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles.
- Diagnostic Testing Capacity: Expanding capacity statewide to help all regions conduct testing.
- Contact Tracing Capacity: 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.
Businesses and industries will open in a phased approach. Phase 1 includes construction, manufacturing and select retail (with curbside pickup). Phase 2 includes professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support and real estate/rental leasing. Phase 3 includes restaurants, food services and hotels. And Phase 4 includes arts, entertainment, recreation and education.
Upon reopening, businesses must implement new safety precautions to help lower the risk of spreading the virus. These include strict cleaning and sanitation standards, restricting nonessential travel, adapting the workplace to allow for social distancing, and requiring masks to be worn if employees are in frequent contact with the public. Read all the requirements here.
As we learn more about the plan to re-open New York, we will continue to provide information in our eNewsletter and through direct communication with local businesses. Thank you for your patience!
Looking for a Job? New York State is Hiring Contact Tracers
New York State plans to hire a team of 6,400 to 17,000 staff statewide, depending on the projected number of COVID-19 cases, to support the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Local Health Departments (LHDs) to perform contact tracing in communities across NYS. Learn more: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/get-involved-how-you-can-help
Help for Small Business Owners: Coronavirus Stimulus Package Simplified
On Thursday, 4/30 the Town of New Castle, in collaboration with the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, hosted an online seminar titled “Coronavirus Stimulus Package Simplified.” A panel of experts answered questions and presented information to help local small business owners navigate the economic assistance programs offered in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are some of the questions we received:
Q: My business is non-essential. I have received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, which requires me to keep my staff on payroll, but how can I do that if I can’t ask them to work?
A: You can rehire staff but they cannot report to work, and the store cannot reopen to the public, until the Governor lifts the non-essential work restrictions. If your employees are collecting unemployment insurance benefits, you also need to ascertain whether they want to be returned to your payroll.
Q: When does the clock start on my PPP loan – immediately or when I am legally allowed to open and operate?
A: The 8-week PPP clock started on the day when the loan was funded.
Want to learn more? Watch the video here.
Westchester County SBA Application Assistance Program
Westchester County Economic Development Director Bridget Gibbons’ SBA Application Assistance Program provides guidance to small businesses through the federal application process for the PPP and EIDL. Information on Director Gibbons’ program is available at this link.
New York State Voting Updates:
Thank you to the League of Women Voters for providing the following update on changes made to the New York State voting regulations for 2020:
- Boards of Elections will include paid return postage for all absentee ballots for the June primary.
- All village & town elections scheduled to be held in March, April, May, or June will be held on September 15, 2020.
- School board/budget elections are scheduled for June 9th and will be held via mail with return postage included. Each district will send out postcard notice which details the date of the election, date of budget hearing, definition of qualified voter, and an absentee ballot.
- The Governor’s order recognizes that absentee ballot requests submitted before his Executive Orders on absentee voting will still be valid without further action by the voter.
- Boards of Elections must also make available at their offices a voting system that is accessible for voters wishing to mark their ballot privately and independently.
You can read the Governor’s full Executive Order here .
New Castle Memorial Day Parade – Cancelled for 2020
Sadly, the Town of New Castle, in consultation with the Memorial Day Committee, has made the disappointing but seemingly inevitable decision to cancel the annual Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration for 2020. In place of this tradition, the Committee is brainstorming ideas for other ways to celebrate and remember the honorable soldiers from this community who died in the line of duty.
Westchester County’s first Bicycle Sunday was a success. Bicycle Sunday will continue next Sunday, May 10th.
Westchester County’s Dunwoodie, Hudson Hills and Sprain Lake Golf Courses opened last weekend. These courses have implemented successful social distancing protocol. It is anticipated that Saxon Woods and Maple Moor Golf Courses will open next week.
Westchester County’s Department of Health has been in contact with the Mid-Hudson Office of Empire State Development regarding the closure of indoor and outdoor tennis courts. While all tennis clubs are to remain closed, outdoor tennis courts can operate with restrictions. These courts would have to be restricted to singles play; no means of congregation may be available. All buildings including bathrooms, must remain closed; chairs, benches, etc. must be off limits. ESD indicated that they would expect appropriate social distancing measures to be implemented, which include but are not limited to: Limited parking, internet scheduled reservations, and use of masks by patrons/park goers even when not playing.
New Castle Cleanup Week 2020 – It’s Not too Late!
Due to social distancing regulations the Town’s annual spring clean-up day, organized by the fantastic members of the Beautification Advisory Board, was put on hold. But we are pleased to be able to offer a scaled back version…
The Town of New Castle invites you to participate in 2020 Town Clean-Up Week. Help keep our town clean by collecting trash from the streets in your neighborhood. Complete this form to request a bright orange trash bag (or 2 or 3!). Bags can be left curbside for weekly trash collection. Please remember to practice social distancing while participating in Clean-Up Week activities. Thank you for helping make New Castle a beautiful place to live and work!
Parking Permits – Extended Through October 2020
Due to the ongoing uncertainty around the timeline to re-open New York, the Town Board has decided to extend parking permits for the train station parking lot through October 2020. Anyone who currently holds a parking permit can continue to use the lot through that time for those who are able to do so. In October, we will accept permit renewal applications and new applications. Going forward, the calendar year will be shifted to this new schedule.
Census 2020 – Make Us Count!
Data from the Census will be used for the next ten years for many things - including determining New York State’s representation in Congress as well as local districting. Census data is also used for the distribution of about $880 Billion of federal funds to local municipalities. The Census Bureau estimates that every person that is not counted equals a loss of approximately $2,500 per year to local municipalities. This means that every 400 people who are not counted equates to a loss of about $1 Million in funding - each year. It’s not too late! Complete your census today and MAKE US COUNT! https://my2020census.gov/
First Quarter Budget Update from Town Comptroller Rob Deary
Last night the Town Board heard first quarter budget update from Town Comptroller Rob Deary. This is a new practice we instituted this year to stay on top of our financials throughout the year, and in the midst of the pandemic there was much to discuss. Here is a summary of Rob’s message to the Board:
"While the Town will definitely feel the effects of the economic slow-down, it will not be catastrophic. I am estimating a net budget deficit of approximately $1.6MM. The Town management and staff will continue to look at every costs saving and revenue maximizing scenario, but for any shortfall at year end we are fortunate enough to be able to rely on an available fund balance in excess of $8MM. Town management has already begun discussions on the 2021 budget and will be working over the next couple months to create a budget that will continue to provide the services that our residents demand at the lowest possible tax rate."
I want to assure residents that the Town Board and your Town government are considering this crisis from all angles, developing different scenarios and projections, and will be working to create a plan for the future that is modest, conservative, and focused on continuing to provide the highest quality essential Town services.