What a year we have been through. Last year, the phrase COVID-19 was not a part of our everyday vocabulary. When we entered lockdown this past March, none of us were expecting to still be wearing masks and social distancing nine months later. Nobody expected to spend Thanksgiving, the entire holiday season, and New Year’s apart from our families and friends.
While the two recently approved COVID-19 vaccines are on their way, we are currently experiencing the highest number of daily new cases since this all started. As of today, there are 96 active cases in the Village, bringing the cumulative number of cases in Rye Brook to 527. That is a significant number of people who have contracted the virus for such a small Village. There are surely many more residents who are/were asymptomatic, or who have/had symptoms who have not been tested.
I cannot help but reflect on how so many Rye Brook residents have risen to meet numerous challenges head-on. Who can forget the generosity of our residents who helped feed and provide toiletries for out-of-state nurses who were temporarily staying at the closed Doral Arrowwood Hotel; our residents who organized and donated meals for all our first responders; and our residents of Asian-American descent who used their connections to provide our first responders and Village staff with face masks prior to their widespread availability.
Our Police and Fire Departments, and EMS have been absolutely amazing. Their actions are saving lives and we cannot thank them enough.
The pandemic has forced us all to transform our lives and routines. The Board of Trustees and other Village Boards and Committees have had to hold meetings via Zoom. Many of us voted by mail in perhaps the most important presidential election of our lifetimes. A great number of residents transitioned to working from home. Staying close to home became the new normal. As March transitioned to April, our streets were flooded with residents walking, jogging, and riding bicycles. Neighbors became reacquainted.
When things were seemingly getting better this past August, Tropical Storm Isaias left almost 20% of the Village without power for several days.
Furthermore, 2020 brought social justice issues to the forefront. In September, the Village Board of Trustees established a Police Reform Collaborative Committee comprised of Village officials, members of staff, residents, and community leaders. The primary goal of this Committee is to devise a Police Reform Collaborative Plan to be adopted by the Village Board by April 2021. The Committee has held several public meetings and published a survey (684 survey responses were submitted) to garner community feedback about the Village of Rye Brook Police Department. We encourage public participation in future meetings.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize my fellow Board of Trustees members, as well as Chris Bradbury and his outstanding staff. Running this Village is a collaborative effort, and I cannot thank them enough.
Finally, some tough love – driving around the Village the past several days, I have witnessed several driveways full of cars (including many from of out of state). Rye Brook is currently seeing the highest number of active COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Please abide by the Governor’s instructions and limit socializing during the holidays. Over 71% of all new active COVID-19 cases are coming from “living room” socialization. Rye Brook has experienced several outbreaks since Thanksgiving, so please limit your New Year’s Eve gatherings.
I wish you all a happy, and most importantly, healthy New Year!