New COVID-19 cases linked to Chappaqua graduation ceremony

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the state Department of Health to investigate possible COVID-19 exposure at a drive-in graduation ceremony for Horace Greeley High School.

News 12 Staff

Jun 29, 2020, 10:08 AM

Updated 1,420 days ago

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the state Department of Health to investigate possible COVID-19 exposure at a local high school graduation ceremony.
On June 20, a drive-in graduation ceremony for Horace Greeley High School was held at the Chappaqua train station and since then, 13 people who were at the event have tested positive for coronavirus. 
Nearly 400 people attended, but not everyone was wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
According to state health officials, a student who had recently traveled to Florida and attended the graduation started showing symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19.
In addition to the ceremony, the student also participated in what's being called a non-school related "field night" event that same day where juniors, seniors, and students from surrounding school districts also attended. 
Since then, four more people who attended the ceremony and had contact with that first student have also tested positive.
Health officials are now saying anyone who attended the Horace Greeley graduation, the field night event, or any events associated with the graduation last weekend should immediately quarantine until July 5.
New Castle police also sent out a notification that the governor is directing anyone who attended the graduation to quarantine. "If you remember in New Rochelle, the original patient generated nearly 100 cases just by normal interaction at various events and going to religious services, a funeral and other activities," says Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
New Castle Deputy Town Supervisor Jeremy Saland released a stern statement saying quote, "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."
In a letter this weekend to the district community, Superintendent Dr. Christine Ackerman said, "The Greeley graduation was a carefully planned event that strictly followed Gov. Cuomo’s executive orders and all NYS Department of Health Guidelines. The district repeatedly provided clear guidance and protocols for families that complied with all applicable health and safety orders and guidelines. Unfortunately, at the event, and despite police presence, numerous individuals failed to follow our protocols. In addition, we later learned that one attendee, who had recently traveled to Florida, later tested positive for COVID-19." 
Ackerman continued, "I strongly encourage members of the Chappaqua school community to remain vigilant. Continue wearing a mask when you are in public, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing."
The state's Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker also addressed the Horace Greeley High School community on Sunday in a letter saying, "We are working with officials from Horace Greeley to identify everyone who attended the graduation ceremony and any subsequent gatherings where they may have been exposed. The New York State Contact Tracing Program will be reaching out to identified individuals."
The state Department of Health and the Westchester County Health Department are working with school officials to identify all who attended the ceremony and any other graduation gatherings where they may have been exposed.
The New Castle Police Department says it will be increasing social distancing enforcement based on recent activity ahead of the 4th of July weekend.
It has added additional officers to crack down on violators. Those caught not following policy face charges and fines, with some as high as $10,000.
PHOTOS: COVID-19 impacts the world
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