NEW CASTLE, NY — After Westchester County officials begged hundreds of New Castle residents exposed to the new coronavirus over Horace Greeley High School’s graduation weekend to self-quarantine and answer contact tracers’ calls, town officials issued a statement — and they didn’t mince words.
“It has come to our attention that despite the continued outreach and education by and from the Town of New Castle, Westchester County and New York State, there are some people who continue to ignore social distancing guidelines and willfully disregard the protocols intended to protect the public health,” they said in a special edition of their e-newsletter.
“Lest it be lost on anyone, your 16-year-old child does not dictate to you that he or she is going to hang out with friends. When your son or daughter is home from college living under your roof, it is your roost to rule. If you just returned from states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona or Texas, do not have the arrogance to believe you do not need to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
The outbreak is connected to two local families who returned from trips to Florida bringing the virus. Infected family members attended the ceremony and parties over June 20-21 that drew not only the school’s more than 300 graduates but also family members, other Greeley students and staff, as well as teenagers from nearby communities.
Disregarding pandemic protocols is apparently a pattern in this coronavirus cluster. A photo from the graduation ceremony widely shared on social media shows many students and guests mingling without masks during the ceremony, which was planned as a “drive-in” event at the Chappaqua train station’s south lot.Subscribe
Then during a visit Monday to New Castle, County Executive George Latimer and Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler held a news conference and repeatedly reminded residents that everyone who attended the ceremony or parties must properly quarantine themselves. They also repeatedly implored residents to answer phone calls from contact tracers trying to find and warn everyone who was exposed.
New Castle officials sent out their email later that night.
“We will not tolerate these selfish actions,” they said. “Know that you are potentially and gravely hurting this community and those you presumably love if you do not. Yes, you can have gatherings consistent with the Executive Orders, but whether you are 18 or 81, be neither complicit nor the problem itself. Do not throw parties and forget the social distancing and mask wearing that has kept us safe. Ignorance is not bliss. In fact, getting sick from or passing on COVID-19 is anything but that.
“Show respect to your neighbors, friends, family members and strangers – such as those who were self-quarantined despite adhering to the law and best practices.”
Town officials said the board and Police Department are fully involved in the efforts led by the New York State Department of Health.
“It is our hope that we need not pursue the type of recourse that those who are summoned or charged will undoubtedly regret,” they said. “Whether you are a New Castle resident, a visitor from a neighboring community, or a student in the Chappaqua Central School District, should you flout the very rules that are intended to keep us all safe, the consequences may be quite severe. Know that we have reached out to and spoken with the Governor’s Office and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for guidance on how to best enforce social distancing orders whether through civil sanctions and fines or criminal prosecutions.”
New Castle police have reorganized to assign several officers to pandemic protocol enforcement.
If we see a social distancing violation or an actionable one is reported to us, we will investigate and address it,” said Chief James Carroll.
You can be charged with:
- Violation of Health Law (PBH § 12-B) – criminal misdemeanor; up to $10,000 for a first-time violation and/or up to one-year imprisonment.
- Violation of Health Law (PBH § 12) – civil violation; up to $2,000 for a first-time violation and $5,000 for repeat violations.
- 10 NYCRR 66-3.2 Section 66-3.2. – civil violation; maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation.
- Disorderly Conduct, Penal Law § 240.20 (6) – criminal violation; up to a $250 fine and fifteen days in jail.
Police ask residents who observe a social distancing violation or any other violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders to call (914) 238-4422.