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Last updateWed, 25 Nov 2020 4pm

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ThanksgivingPoliceThe outbreak of the COVID-19 has crafted a new normal that has become our daily reality. Even beloved family traditions that emerge during the holiday seasons, such as devouring pumpkin pancakes early in the morning or playing an annual football game, are not safe from the virus’ path. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, a majority of Scarsdale families now find themselves unsure of how to proceed — still wanting to celebrate the joyous holiday yet also keenly aware of the risks.

Most of the Scarsdale residents understand the dire implications that could result from hosting lavish gatherings in enclosed spaces during a pandemic. Not being able to spend Thanksgiving, a holiday where many find joy in shared time with family and friends, to protect those same individuals is a hard concept to grasp. We’re accustomed to the inviting atmosphere that emerges as loved ones partake in a feast with family favorites like buttery mash potatoes and tart apple pie. In many ways, during a year filled with twists and turns such as this one, Thanksgiving would have served as a pleasant hint of normalcy — a glimmer of life before present-day social-distancing and mask mandates.

However, like everything in this strange year, it is simply not possible. Just as we have had to adjust to learning or working in a different environment, we must make painful adaptations to Thanksgiving plans.

Nevertheless, there are several ways to ameliorate the pain from a modified Thanksgiving. First and foremost, it is important to revisit the meaning of Thanksgiving as a holiday when we express gratitude and give back. As many of us are fortunate enough to have food on our tables, it is always a good idea to pay it forward. For instance, an act of charity could mean picking up a few extra cans of food during a weekly grocery-shop to donate to families who are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. Another example is to connect with an older adult from an elderly home via Zoom to bring them a little Thanksgiving joy during a hard time.

Fearing the potential repercussions of leaving Thanksgiving plans open for interpretation, Governor Cuomo has made his recommendations clear. He urges fellow New Yorkers to stay home and limit traveling during the holiday season; he believes that if large groups come together for traditional celebrations the spread of the coronavirus will intensify, leading to a spike in cases. Furthermore, according to mandates, individuals are required to limit gatherings to no more than ten people to decrease the chances of a potential COVID-19 outbreak. According to Scarsdale100583’s Thanksgiving survey 93.1% of Scarsdale residents, will comply with Cuomo’s regulations of limiting all indoor gatherings to ten people.

It is important to remember that Cuomo's guidelines were made to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers. To comply, Scarsdale families are crafting Thanksgiving plans that retain some traditions while safeguarding all the people at the table. Most are limiting the number of guests and maintain distance between them. According to our survey, 74% of participants, in a typical year, would have anywhere from 11 to 26+ people at their Thanksgiving table. However, given the pandemic, an overwhelming 94.7% will now be dining with 1 to 10 guests given the current state of the world.

With modified plans in place, some feel safer delving into their Thanksgiving feast. “I’m going to my aunt and uncle's house with just their family and ours. It is a small number of individuals and we will all be eating outside. I’m not too nervous about us because I think we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure our mutual safety,” remarked Ben Spitanly, a junior at Scarsdale High School.

No matter how many alterations Scarsdale residents make though, this year’s Thanksgiving will simply be different from all the rest. “Thanksgiving is so special and even substitutes like Zoom will never be able to replace the memories created by this day. Because Thanksgiving will not be celebrated in person with the rest of my extended family it almost feels surreal...a day once celebrated by 10-20 family members in the past will now be celebrated by three together in person,” added Rowan Haffner, a junior at Scarsdale High School.

As many of us indulge in a smaller yet still meaningful Thanksgiving feast, let it be a reminder to all that the holiday orbits around the idea of being grateful. We should give thanks for the plentiful food that spans our dining room tables, show appreciation for those that remain in our lives, and most importantly, express our deepest condolences to those families who will inevitably have empty seats at their tables. “Thanksgiving is always the one time where I get to see my entire family. Although this year it will be accompanied by Zooms and Facetimes, the holiday, like always, will be about surrounding myself with loved ones and relaying our gratitudes — no matter what form it must take,” concluded Shamolie Panjwani, a junior at Scarsdale High School.

safecoalitionHow has domestic violence in Westchester County been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and what resources are available to those in need? That’s the subject of a video created by the Safe Coalition: Children, Families, Community. The video examines the effect of the outbreak on domestic violence and provides information on the many robust and collaborative resources available to families. Lauren Pomerantz, LCSW, Coordinator of the Safe Coalition, is joined by local domestic violence experts in Westchester County. The conversation is moderated by Laura Daniels, Esq, Westchester County Family Law Attorney, and includes:

-Susan Carroll, Esq, Director of Training, Outreach and Education at the Pace Women’s Justice Center
-Michelle James-Walker, Director of the Westchester County Family Justice Center
-Koffman, Prevention Program Coordinator and Counselor at Hope’s Door
-Darlene Reda, Esq, Program Administrator at Westchester County Office for Women

Please consider sharing this video with your friends, family and any other organization with whom you are affiliated.

Watch it here:

letter to the editorThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Irin Israel
There is a real cost and impact to our children not going to school. Peer school districts have moved mountains and left no stone unturned and have been able to provide their children with substantially more live learning – either in-person or via live streaming. They accomplished this weeks ago and adhered to NYS health and safety guidelines.

“But this type of planning, ingenuity, and initiative makes plain an essential determinant for why certain districts, with the necessary resources, have full-time in-person schooling: the will of the leader.” (NY Magazine, 10/19/20, David Zweig)

Superintendent Thomas Hagerman and the current Board have become a unit of naysayers rather than striving for solutions to get our children as many live/synchronous hours of education as possible. It appears they are looking to put unnecessary roadblocks in front of every idea, and they often refuse to explain their reasoning, even though they claim that getting the children back to school is a priority.

There is a reasonableness standard, which can be assessed the NYS Department of Health’s definition of safe practices and what other communities are doing successfully. No superintendent, board member, administrator, teacher, union, parent, or anyone else in the community should have the right or ability to deny our children education based on the belief that their opinion on safety supersedes that of our NYS experts.

We owe it to our children to deliver the best education possible as long as it can be delivered in the safe manner prescribed by our own experts at the NYS Department of Health.

Examples of the Board/Administration’s shortcomings:

-When the use of physical barriers was suggested to achieve social distancing, the Board relied upon the wrong restart guidelines. According to the proper NYS health and safety guidelines, barriers may be safely used for social distancing and do not require 6-foot distancing as well. This can be used with masks and cohorts. This method is being used safely by peer schools to enable more students to be in-person, yet the Board has not allowed for this analysis.

-When cameras were suggested for live streaming, the Board declared that it was not possible.  When asked why, they explained that it was complicated. They have finally attempted some live streaming, but it has been rolled out in a haphazard manner that does not lay the foundation for success.

-When tents were suggested prior to the school year, the Board declared that it was insurmountable. Now, the warm weather has passed.

-When trailers were suggested, the Board declared that there was a six-month approval process. They have still not put in for approval.

Somehow other competent school districts have been to achieve all of the above – successfully and safely. No one is saying the solutions are simple, easy or perfect. But why are these options not being seriously examined and the obstacles they present being tackled?  Our District is lacking the planning, ingenuity and initiative that other districts have shown.

Please attend the BOE Meeting: Monday 11/2 6:30pm SHS

MentalHealthMembers of the community are invited to enroll in the Mental Health First Training course that will be held virtually and free of charge on Thursday, December 3, 2020 from 9am to 2pm.

Mental Health First Aid trains participants in mental health literacy, understanding risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns and strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors offers concrete tools and answers to key questions, such as “what do I do?” and “where can someone find help?”.

Just as CPR helps participants assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps participants assist those experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. This course is recommended for a wide variety of community members, including faith leaders, first responders, employers and other caring individuals. All participants will receive national certification in Mental Health First Aid after completing the course.

“Mental Health First Aid training is more essential than ever, as communities nation-wide face increasing mental health-related challenges in the wake of the tragic COVID-19 pandemic,” said Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services Executive Director James Genova. “We are extremely pleased to offer the community this important training and have the capacity to provide vital assistance and counseling when demand for Mental Health First Aid is expected to reach historic levels.”

More than 2 million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid. The upcoming training is made possible through the partnership of the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling service, National Council for Behavioral Health, Westchester Department of Community Mental Health and Westchester Jewish Community Services.

To register or for more information, please contact

Dr. Michael FinkelsteinDr. Michael FinkelsteinBoard certified internist at the Scarsdale Medical Group Dr. Michael Finkelstein tells us why it’s important to get the flu shot:

Why is it important to get the flu vaccine this year?

In general, it’s important to get a flu shot every year because even if the flu strain isn’t 100% covered by the vaccine, it still offers you protection and can lessen symptoms. This year, it’s even more important to get vaccinated because we also have the COVID virus out there. If everyone in your family won’t get vaccinated, it’s important to make sure at least one adult family member does so that someone will be able to care for family members who may get sick. There are no true medical contraindications for the flu vaccine, so it’s generally a safe vaccine. There are some who might have an egg allergy, and that’s something you can discuss with your PCP before getting the shot.

Have you heard anything about this year’s flu strain?

I actually just got my flu vaccine, and many patients were asking about this. We just haven’t had enough cases yet this year to determine the efficacy of this year’s vaccine. But, if people get the flu shot, and continue to wear a mask when out in public and follow other COVID precautions, our flu season might be a lot better this year than in previous years.

Where can people get a flu shot?

For patients at Scarsdale Medical Group, there are two convenient ways to get the flu shot. First, you can make an appointment with your physician and get the shot at the time of your visit. Or, we have a pediatric patient flu tent located at our offices at 600 Mamaroneck Road, and we have an adult flu tent at 259 Heathcote Road. Patients can make an appointment for one of our flu tents by calling (914) 723-8100.

Should children get a flu shot? At what age? What about pregnant woman?

The CDC recommends that children get a flu vaccine every year in the fall, starting at 6 months old. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age may need 2 doses for best protection. I’d advise that parents consult with their pediatrician on what age to start getting regular flu shots for their children. All pregnant women should be vaccinated for the flu, even if they had a flu shot the previous year. It’s safe, there are no contraindications for pregnant women, and it will protect them from experiencing high fevers that can be dangerous during pregnancy, or from getting pneumonia.

Should those who do get the shot expect to experience side effects?WhitePlainsHospitalSponsorBanner

The most common side effects are mild, and can be pain at injection site, swelling, or redness. These can be managed by using a warm compress or taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen. The flu shot is not a live vaccine, so you won’t get the flu from it.

Why is there a special vaccine for people 65 and over? What’s different about it?

For older people whose have a decreased immune system, there is a higher dose vaccine which is essentially just 2/10ths of a cc more than the regular vaccine. This is to boost their immune response to the flu.

If you already had coronavirus, do you need a flu vaccine this year?

Yes, definitely. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a different virus from the flu virus, so having had coronavirus doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu. Plus, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms by about 50%, so it’s important to protect yourself and your family.

If you do have symptoms, how can you distinguish between the flu and the corona virus?

Flu symptoms are usually more acute—you wake up one morning and feel awful and have a fever. Coronavirus is usually more subtle at first and can include mild symptoms like a runny nose and body aches. The best way to know if it’s flu or coronavirus is to speak to your physician and get either a flu or COVID swab.

Tell us about yourself - what is your area of specialty, how long have you been at the Scarsdale Medical Group and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’ve been with Scarsdale Medical Group for about 6 years and am an internist. I also have a background in emergency medicine and was an ER physician off and on for about 20 years. I also specialize in wound care and hyperbaric medicine. In my spare time I like to cook and eat what I cook. I’m also a fan of automotive shows on TV. Pre-COVID, I really enjoyed traveling and hope to start doing that again in the future.

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