We were so pleased to have County Executive George Latimer join us as guest speaker for one of our Friday virtual meetings last month! Born and educated in Mount Vernon, NY and now residing in Rye, George Latimer’s political career began 33 years ago. From City Councilman, to County Legislator, to Chairman of the County Board of Legislators, to Assemblyman, to State Senator and now County Executive, George has consistently fought for the needs of Westchester residents. In the first half of his term as County Executive, he made great strides placing a renewed focus on the County's finances, defending our environment and cutting the County tax levy by a million dollars.
This year, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Westchester County’s healthcare infrastructure was faced with unexpected challenges as the capacity of hospitals and other medical facilities became overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. CE Latimer shared some statistics with us about the virus and its impact on Westchester. One thing we were glad to hear is that the County’s hospital system never got to 50-percent capacity. Our hospital system is equipped with 3,100 hospital beds, yet even at its peak, the number of COVID-19 cases reached 11,000 with 1,200 people hospitalized. That tells us that our hospital infrastructure was never stressed beyond its capability, but this is not to say that many hospitals, healthcare workers and first responders were not under enormous strain. At the height of the pandemic in March and April, 72 people died in one night, and sadly, 1,450 lives have been lost as a result of this virus. By mid-August, CE Latimer said there were approximately 450 active cases in Westchester County and approximately 40 people hospitalized. On average, 4,000 people are being tested per day, with less than one out of 10 people testing positive compared to one in three people at the height of the pandemic – so that was good to hear!
Before concluding his update, CE Latimer told us about a special memorial dedicated to Westchester County residents who lost their lives to COVID-19. The memorial, “Ribbons of Remembrance,” is located in Yonkers and overlooks the Hudson River and the Palisades at 
Lenoir Preserve
. Using ribbons and permanent markers available at the site, visitors can write the name of someone they have lost on the ribbon and tie it to one of two trees or the rope structure. Speaking at the press conference about the memorial, CE Latimer said, “We need within our culture certain social points where we can come together. We have all lost people that we know and love through this process. The memorial is a way to remember that these people were once with us, important to us and we’re not going to forget them.”
Rye Rotary thanks County Executive George Latimer for sharing his time with us and for the important work he has done and continues to do to serve Westchester County.