Yonkers to step up enforcement if the coronavirus spreads – Lohud

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While Yonkers has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Westchester County, Mayor Mike Spano and County Executive George Latimer remain positive about the city's ability to survive the pandemic.

"It was a tough job, but it was tough for everyone and I think everyone can see we're all in it together," Spano said today during a Facebook Live discussion with the county executive.

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People waiting for the bus and pedestrians are pictured on Palisade Avenue in Yonkers on April 8, 2020. (Photo: Mark Vergari / The Journal News)

Over the computer screen, the two discussed how the spread of the coronavirus is affecting the fourth largest city in the state.

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By the numbers, Yonkers has the highest confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Westchester. There were 1,730 confirmed cases in Yonkers as of Tuesday. Almost exactly a month ago, on March 9, the city reported its first six cases of the virus.

"We had our first report of COVID-19 on March 9th, at which point there were six cases," Spano said. "Everyone saw it grow exponentially."

Limit yourself to social distancing

When it comes to social distancing, Spano admitted that the city didn't do much to enforce this at first – but it will soon be so.

"We took a very light approach to begin with. The approach was encouragement to encourage people to practice social distancing," Spano said.

Now Yonkers has taken down basketball hoops and closed children's playgrounds in the hope that large groups will no longer congregate in public spaces.

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Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is pictured at Yonkers City Hall on January 23, 2020. (Photo: Mark Vergari / The Journal News)

"We tried to have a gentle glove approach," said Spano. "But this week the residents will see that we will improve that a little. The police will be there, they will enforce social distancing."

Police officers will mostly issue warnings, Spano said, adding that they are allowed to issue subpoenas if they feel someone is in an obvious violation of social distancing policy. Governor Andrew Cuomo raised the fine for non-compliance with social distancing to $ 1,000 this week.

Latimer and Spano noted that the need for social distancing would be an adjustment for many who celebrate Easter and Passover this weekend, including themselves.

"It's isolating, this disease, the nature of what we have to do," Spano said. "I think there's a tremendous amount of fear out there, but at the same time I'm focusing on the positives."

Spano added that while the town hall is closed, it is not closed for business. He encouraged residents to go to the city's website to see how they can access various city departments.

Be helpful by staying home

According to Spano, the residents of Yonkers have given an incredible amount to key workers, especially local health workers.

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George Latimer, Westchester County Executive, speaks about the first case of Coronavirus Covid-19 in Westchester during a press conference at the Westchester County office building in White Plains on March 3, 2020. (Photo: Mark Vergari / The Journal News)

"There are a number of ways we can be helpful. I know I want to avoid them and let them do their job," said Spano.

He said many people, including himself, have delivered groceries to St. John & # 39; s Riverside Hospital and St. Joseph & # 39; s Medical Center to thank the medical professionals.

"It made me feel good that people are recognizing healthcare workers," he said.

It's not always a kind of gratitude, however, Spano noted, adding that health professionals have entrusted him with their growing fears about the treatment of those affected by the virus.

"Some health care workers don't go home because they don't want to expose their families to the virus. That's why they work double and sleep in their car," Spano said. "This is really a commitment for our healthcare workers."

Latimer says the county is working on additional housing for those on the front lines so they don't have to go home and expose their families to the virus, possibly by providing them with hotel rooms. It is unclear when this would happen.

"I'm really proud of the people in this city," said Spano. "You have responded remarkably well across the board, especially the public servants."

Slow down the spread

Spano has good faith in the residents of Yonkers and their ability to follow directions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Residents just want to know that their services are being provided," Spano said. "They'll listen and do the things they should be doing."

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The police officer Kayla Maher from Yonkers and the police officer John Zappia are pictured with their radio-controlled car outside the 3rd district in Yonkers on April 2, 2020. First responders respond to serious medical calls, but others are treated by Empress Ambulance and the Yonkers Fire Department. Maher was the officer who was shot in the face during a suspicious vehicle call in September 2017. (Photo: Mark Vergari / The Journal News)

Parks remain open even though children's parks and playgrounds are closed because they can't be cleaned, Spano said.

According to Spano, there are 54 different parks in the city that residents can walk around "as long as you practice social distancing."

There are also several county parks in Yonkers, such as Tibbetts Brook Park, that are still open and available for residents to exercise responsibly, Latimer said.

"The nature trails, the hiking, they're not really a problem," said Latimer. "But when we get Kensico Plaza, the promenade in Playland, the large open space in Tibbetts, it can slide into large groups of people very easily."

Isabel Keane covers the breaking news across the Lower Hudson Valley. Click here for their latest stories. Follow her on Twitter @ijkeane. Here's how you can support local journalism.

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