COVID-19 UPDATE: 1,000 New Cases And Nine Deaths Reported In Last 24 Hours In Suffolk County - 27 East

COVID-19 UPDATE: 1,000 New Cases And Nine Deaths Reported In Last 24 Hours In Suffolk County

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authorStaff Writer on Mar 21, 2020

Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. : Detailed Case Map Coming

On Saturday, the link to a detailed Suffolk County GIS map depicting the number of cases per community in each town was circulated. By Sunday, the map was closed to the public.

During his daily update on Tuesday, County Executive Steve Bellone said his IT department was working on restoring the map, and providing as much detailed information as quickly as possible was “a top priority.”

Countywide, he reported the number of patients testing positive for coronavirus soared by 1,000 overnight to 6,713.

“It’s hard to believe just a few weeks ago we were talking about cases in the single digits,” he said.

The number of positive results is, he reiterated, directly related to the number of tests being conducted. Over 17,6000 tests were given at the mobile site at Stony Brook University alone. Testing continues to expand, he said. A new site in Babylon will be conducting molecular tests that cut the wait time for results to 15 minutes. At the outset of the pandemic, patients could wait as many as five days for results.

People must call ahead before they visit test sites. For the Babylon site, the number is 631-983-4084. For the new drive-thru site in Riverhead, call 516-874-0411.

Hospital capacity continues to increase, the county executive reported. Countywide, there is a 2,803-bed capacity, with 598 available. There is a ICU capacity of 397, of which 67 are available.

Mr. Bellone reported nine additional deaths bringing the number of COVID-19 fatalities in Suffolk County to 53. Six of the victims were elderly, ranging in age from 70s to late 90s and suffered underlying medical conditions prior to the infection. Two of those who succumbed were in their 30s, with underlying medial conditions, and one was in his 40s.

“We’re seeing young people dying, “ Mr. Bellone said. “It is not just the elderly at risk here, it is many, many people in our community … Anyone can contract it, and anyone can transmit it.”

“This is going to be a long recovery effort, “ Mr. Bellone added.

Taking note of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding that will be available, he said, “That’s very important to us.”

But, there’s a lot of “red tape” to access the money, having paperwork in order to access the funds is very important. The county has launched a public assistance page with FEMA information on the Suffolk County website. Visit suffolkcountyny.gov.

Monday, 4 p.m.: Drive-Thru Testing Now Available In Riverhead

Urgent care provider ProHEALTH has begun offering daily drive-thru coronavirus testing at its facility in Riverhead, by appointment only, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele’s office announced on Monday afternoon.

The ProHEALTH Urgent Care on Old Country Road will offer drive-thru testing appointments from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Tests will be administered only to those who have called and spoken to the facility and meet testing criteria set by the New York State Department of Health. Patients must be experiencing symptoms and must also have had contact with someone who has tested positive, or be an emergency services first responder, medical professional or senior care or living facility staff member.

Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection and meet the other testing criteria should call the ProHEALTH dedicated hotline at 516-874-0411 to speak to a medical professional.

Monday, 3:30 p.m. : School Elections, Village Petitions Postponed

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order postponing the circulating and filing of nominating petitions for village offices, originally due to commence on March 31, in advance of village elections in June. The governor has also mandated the postponement of school board, library board, or village board elections slated to take place any time in April or May until at least June 1.

During his daily update on Monday, County Executive Steve Bellone reported 5,791 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Suffolk, breakdowns per town were not available, nor were details on the additional four victims who succumbed to COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 44 countywide.

Ramped up testing continues to result in increased numbers of positive results, Mr. Bellone reiterated. There’s a “direct correlation,” he said. Over 5,000 tests have been conducted at the Stony Brook University mobile site alone. Increasing hospital capacity, where concurrent staffing and supplies continues to be a focus.

Locally, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneidermn has signed an order extending the town’s state of emergency through April 15, to coincide with extensions to the New York PAUSE regulations and school closures.

Sunday, 5:30 p.m.: More Than 100 Cases On South Fork

Suffolk County health facilities are thus far keeping up with the rising pressure put on them by the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, as the number of confirmed cases in the county pushed over 5,000 and the number on the South Fork alone topped 100.

County health officials said on Sunday that more than 500 people are now hospitalized county-wide with coronavirus infections, 160 of them in intensive care units where ventilator machines can be used to assist with breathing.

But the county still has more than 700 open beds and 71 ICU beds available, with hospitals cobbling together new facilities and the Army Corps working to set up a temporary hospital at Stony Brook University to expand the total capacity before the expected surge in cases reaches its peak.

It is not known exactly how many beds or ICU units are available at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital or Peconic Bay Medical Center.

County officials said that a Southampton Town man died at home on Saturday from coronavirus-related health complications and that the total number of cases on the South Fork is now at 101: 79 in Southampton Town and 22 in East Hampton Town.

The man was in his 60s and had underlying health problems that preceded his coronavirus infection and made him particularly vulnerable to the infection, Mr. Bellone said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and county Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott on Sunday sought to tamp down reports of “hot spots” of the viral outbreak related to the county’s release of a hamlet-by-hamlet breakdown of testing.

Mr. Bellone noted that testing is currently limited to a specific criteria -- one of which is that a person must have been in contact with someone who has already tested positive -- that means the numbers may not belie the actual rates of infection in a given area.

Dr. Pigott said it is “premature to call any place a hotspot.”

“The testing isn’t random,” Mr. Bellone added. “We’re not testing everybody or even broadly at this point.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that the state has developed a new method of testing for the virus that is less “intrusive” than the current nasal and throat swabs. The new test, the governor said, would allow a person to self-administer the test by providing a saliva sample and a shallower nasal swab.

The method would mean that healthcare workers supervising the testing would not need as extensive protective equipment, easing the demand for the protective garb that is in short supply.

The governor said the new testing system will be ready to implement by next week.

There were 885 new cases confirmed since Saturday and the total number of deaths county-wide is now at 40, with three recent deaths confirmed as being related to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

“These deaths are a reminder every day of why we are doing what we’re doing,” Mr. Bellone said. “And why it’s so important to … minimize it as much as possible.”

He said that the coronavirus has been particularly hard on the families of those who are suffering from severe symptoms and cannot visit their loved ones because of infection protection protocols in place.

“It’s always difficult to lose someone you love and someone you care about and it’s agonizing for families … to not see or visit a loved one who is dying,” the county executive said. “It isn’t natural.”

Sunday, 1 p.m.: Cuomo Extends Work Restriction To April 15

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday morning that the workforce restrictions on non-essential workers state-wide would remain in place for at least two more weeks.

Yesterday the governor said schools would remain closed for at least two more weeks, and most likely for four, and today he warned that until a reliable form of testing large numbers of people more quickly is developed, it appears likely that social distancing rules will have to remain in effect.

“You tell me when they have come up with a home test that can be brought to volume — that’s when you see a real return to normalcy in the workforce,” he said early this afternoon at a press conference in Albany. “If you could test, today, millions of people, you can send them to work tomorrow.”

Medical experts have also been pushing for the development of a test for antibodies to the COVID-19 coronavirus, suspecting that many people have likely contracted the virus without developing strong symptoms and may have built up antibodies in their blood system. If those antibodies can be detected by a test, a person could be allowed to return to work safely.

The state’s edict that all non-essential businesses be closed and employees asked to stay home has been in place for a week but has evolved over the last several days in ways that have been particularly impactful on East End businesses.

Early in the week, modifications to the state order went out declaring all construction work and “maintenance” landscaping work as included under essential businesses as long as workers were following social distancing guidelines of remaining at least six feet apart.

But on Friday, in response to a deluge of complaints from the public and government officials, East End lawmakers in particular, the essential work decree was modified again, saying that only construction work directed at emergency repairs specifically necessary to protect the health or safety of the occupants of a home, or work that is necessary to keep a structure secure.

Public officials have continued to blast worker and residents visiting public places for not following the six-foot distancing guidelines.

Saturday, 5:45 p.m.: County Gives Breakdown Of COVID-19 Cases By Hamlet

Suffolk County has created a real time map depicting the number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases by hamlet, village and neighborhood.

The latest numbers, as of Saturday, at 4:30 p.m., were, in East Hampton Town: Montauk, 5; Amagansett, 1; Springs, 5; Northwest, 4; East Hampton, 2; Wainscott, 1.

In the Town of Southampton: Noyac, 4; Water Mill, 1; North Haven, 1; North Sea, 5; Bridgehampton, 3; Southampton, 1; Southampton Village, 5; Shinnecock Hills, 3; Hampton Bays, 17; East Quogue, 8; Quogue,2; Flanders, 10; Riverside, 3; Quiogue, 2; Westhampton, 6; Westhampton Beach, 1; Sag Harbor, 1; Eastport, 3; and Resenburg-Speonk, 1.

Saturday, 4 p.m.: Two Soutampton Schools Staff Test Positive

Two staff members of the Southampton Union Free School District reported to officials that they have tested [positive for COVID-19, according an email sent to community members on Saturday by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nicholas Dyno.

One staff member has not been on the school campus since March 11, the letter states, and the second was last in the district on March 18.

Dr. Dyno said he was precluded from disclosing further information by state health and privacy laws.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has noted that when it receives a positive case, an investigation is opened, and close contact tracing is initiated, the letter states.

Only those who are identified as a close contact are notified directly by the Department of Health, which will also issue quarantine orders and other directives as necessary, it states.

Dr. Dyno urged community memebrs to continue to exercise safe practices recommended by the CDC.

“As a reminder, the district has taken these situations seriously and has continued to clean and sanitize all buildings prior to and since our last day of student attendance on March 13,” the letter states.

Saturday, 3 p.m.: Seven Peconic Landing Residents Have Died From COVID-19

A seventh member of Peconic Landing has died from the coronavirus, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reported at his daily media briefing Saturday.

The woman, who was in her 90s, died Friday evening at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, Peconic Landing said in a statement.

She is one of seven newly reported Suffolk County deaths from COVID-19, bringing the overall death toll to 37. At least 15 new deaths have been reported since Thursday.

“This is the worst part of these updates every day,” Mr. Bellone said as he announced the latest fatalities.

Peconic Landing said Saturday that the woman was a resident of The Shores skilled nursing facility. She had been at ELIH since March 14 and suffered from pre-existing conditions.

“To the family and loved ones of this beloved member, we express our heartfelt sympathies and support during this tragic time,” said Peconic Landing president and CEO Bob Syron.

The county’s number of positively diagnosed coronavirus cases rose to 4,138 Saturday an increase of more than 730 in the past day. Mr. Bellone said 16 percent of these patients are over the age of 65.

“These are moms and dads, grandmothers and granddads,” he said from his office in Hauppauge where he returned Saturday after two weeks in mandatory quarantine for being exposed to the virus. “[They] are critical to us as individuals to our families and to our communities. This whole effort is about doing everything we can to reduce impact on our loved ones our friends and our neighbors and reduce the number of deaths.”

The number of positively diagnosed cases on the North Fork is at 191, with 131 in Southold and 60 in Riverhead Town, county health officials reported Saturday.

Mr. Bellone said 409 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Suffolk County with 139 being treated in intensive care. That leaves 570 regular hospital beds available and 78 ICU beds.

The county executive said the number of hospital beds across Suffolk has not increased, but plans are being made.

“All the work to do that is happening right now,” Mr. Bellone said. “Right now we’re working on space still, then equipment will follow and then the staffing.”

Reporting courtesy Grant Parpan, Riverhead News-Review.

Saturday, 11 a.m.: State Warns About Stimulus Scams

New York Attorney General Letitia James Saturday issued an alert to New Yorkers to warn them about potential scams related to the federal stimulus package passed by Congress to provide economic relief during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Attorney General’s office has received reports of scammers attempting to steal personal and financial information by using the news that the federal government will send payments to people across the country as part of the economic relief efforts.

“Scammers have been using a variety of tools to take advantage of this crisis and steal from New Yorkers,” Attorney General James said in the release. “The latest example involves scammers pretending to be from the federal government and preying on individuals who desperately need financial support right now. I remind all New Yorkers to be vigilant and take precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to these harmful and heartless scams.”

Ms. James released the following tips for New Yorkers to protect themselves from these scams:

Never give your personal information or financial information out to someone unless you are absolutely sure who they are.

Be alert: scammers may use emails, texts, or webpages that look like they are from the federal government. If someone claims to be from the government with a check for you, it may be a phishing scam that is illegally trying to obtain your bank account or other personal information.

If you are eligible for a payment, you will receive a payment directly from the IRS. Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain a payment or a loan for you. If you are eligible for relief, you will not need to make any up-front payment or pay any fee to receive a stimulus payment. You will not be charged any “processing fees.”

Never open attachments or links sent from anyone who claims to be from the government. Do not reply and delete the message right away.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, please contact the Office of the Attorney General at ag.ny.gov/coronavirus and file a complaint.

Friday, 8 p.m.: Stricter Work Restrictions For Costruction Trade

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc was pleased Friday afternoon with the latest revision to the executive order articulating essential businesses as it pertains to the construction industry. Work is prohibited unless it’s of an emergency nature or to secure a site.

“We have a full list of open building permits, “ he said, explaining that staff from the police and code enforcement departments will visit each site to ensure compliance. Fines of up to $10,000 per day may be lodged for non-compliance.

“I’m thankful,” he said. “This is much stricter.”
Confronted with numerous complaints from residents of traffic and work continuing despite the executive order, combined with confusion about the order, the lawmaker wrote Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday asking for clarification.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman also penned a missive to the governor. After lobbying counterparts in the five East End Towns, he secured support from colleagues in Southold and Riverhead as well as several village mayors in his plea for a restricted travel ban from New York to the Twin Forks. He’s asking for travel to be restricted to essential trips, in light of a recommendation from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that people who have traveled from New York self quarantine for 14 day to slow the spread of the deadly illness.

During her daily update, County Legislator Bridget Fleming provided the latest numbers. Across Suffolk Friday the number of positive cases was 3,385. With 10,960 tests given, the rate of positive cases has climbed to 31 percent. There have been 30 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Town-by-town figures continue to grow. There are 20 cases in East Hampton, 68 in Southampton, 479 in Brookhaven, 647 in Islip,163 in Smithtown, 133 in Southold,619 in Huntington, 450 in Babylon, and one on Shelter Island.

Ms. Fleming related that County Executive Steve Bellone plans to ask the state to clarify when and how testing criteria can be expanded. While testing capacity is increasing, she said,”I certainly don’t feel it is adequate for 1.5 million people.” The focus is on assisted living locations. “We want to test more extensively in those communities.”

First responders are given priority at the mobile site in Stony Brook and should mention their status when they call to register, Ms. Fleming emphasized.Also on Friday, Long Island Railroad announced the South Fork Commuter Connection is suspended until future notice. The MTA announced it will run an essential service schedule, and will not be manning station to sell tickets or accepting cash on board trains. Visit the MTA website for schedule changes.

3:30 p.m.: Schools Will Remain Closed At Least Two More Weeks

Schools will remain closed until April 15, per orders from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I think that’s appropriate,” County Executive Steve Bellone offered during his daily update Friday. “We’re likely to be in the thick of it by then,” he said, predicting an extension of the closure beyond April 15.

The county executive announced the launch of a free childcare program available for healthcare workers and first responders called the Suffolk Childcare Consortium. Its goal is to provide daycare for “front-line workers,” Mr. Bellone explained. Enrollment is on a first come, first served basis. Twelve school districts are participating; none on the East End so far. Students will be able to participate in their own district’s distance learning programs. To sign up, call 311 or visit SCOPEonline.us.

Mr. Bellone offered his last update from his children’s playroom, having completed 14 days in quarantine. He said he felt it was critical to model exactly what health department officials are asking of everyone.

Countywide, the number of patients testing positive for coronavirus hit 3,385, with 650 new cases overnight. In three days, the number of cases requiring hospitalization more than doubled to 331 and the trajectory continues, as does the number of deaths. Mr. Bellone reported eight more deaths, bringing the county total to 30.

“Our hearts break for you,” he said to families of victims.

Of the eight, all suffered underlying medical conditions, and most were elderly, half in their 80s, one in his 90s, one in his 60s, and one just 40. All died in western Suffolk hospitals.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.: Westhampton Senior Living Reports Employee With COVID-19

The Villa at Westhampton, a senior care and living facility adjacent to the Westhampton Care Center nursing home, informed residents and their families on Thursday evening that a staff member has tested positive for coronavirus infection.

Villa Executive Director Jeffrey A. Thompson, in an email sent to residents’ families, said that the facility has immediately suspended all group activities and dining room services. All residents will be served their usual meals and snacks and given medications in their rooms or apartments.

“We knew this was going to happen eventually and why we were prepared to take these steps when it became necessary,” Mr. Thompson said in his email. “We wanted to keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible.

“We know this is going to be a big change for them but we are all in this together,” he added. “I know you are asking… how long will this last? I do not have an answer right now, but we will keep you updated.”

Mr. Thompson did not respond to requests for comment or an update on precautions the facility is taking on Friday.

Senior living facilities have been particularly ravaged by the spread of COVID-19. At least six residents of Peconic Landing have died as a result of infections that is believed to have begun with a staff member early on in the virus’s spread through Suffolk County.

The Hampton Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton announced on Wednesday that one of its residents is suspected of having the virus and is being quarantined. The facility said no staff had shown signs of or tested positive for infections.

Friday, 1:45 p.m.: Cuomo Orders School Closure Extended

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered all schools in the state to remain closed through at least April 15.

The governor had originally ordered schools to close though April 1, but on Friday extended the timeline to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a Tweet, the governor stated: “School districts will continue to provide childcare, meals and daily programming.”

He said the state would “reassess” after April 15.

Friday, 12:30 p.m.: Changes To Construction Work Allowances

New York State revised its orders regarding what construction work would be considered “essential” and allowed to continue under the New York Pause order, further restricting the kinds of construction work that are allowed to continue.

The directive, which was sent to towns late Friday morning, commands that work be halted if it is not for an immediate and emergency repair needed to protect the health and safety of the occupants of a house or is work necessary to keep a structure safe.

In either case, once the safety-related repairs are completed, work must halt.

The state order said that even at essential and emergency projects, if safe social distancing cannot be followed — inside buildings, when workers are taking breaks, and at entrances and exits — work would be halted by state or local law enforcement agencies.

The directive said that there are no restrictions on work being conducted by a single worker who is the sole employee on a job site.

The edict came down on Friday, a day after East Hampton Town pleaded with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and state health officials to modify the order, because of large numbers of workers that the town said were working in East Hampton Town but did not appear to be following social distancing guidelines on job sites or in transit to and from work.

“We have large numbers of workers, traveling together in work trucks and vans, coming into East Hampton each day from other towns,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc wrote to the governor and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Thursday. “Many of our residents find it difficult to imagine that the erection of new houses, particularly as second homes for part-time residents … should be considered an ‘essential’ business under this pandemic emergency.”

On Friday morning Mr. Van Scoyoc announced during a live-streamed meeting of the East Hampton Town Board, that he had asked the state to give local governments the power to “fine-tune” the restrictions as they find suits the circumstances within their boundaries.

“The governor has done a tremendous job and has shown great leadership — I know there is a great deal on his plate but we can fine tune that at a local level given that authority,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “There’s no need to go out and be reckless about being in public right now.”

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo told residents during Friday morning’s meeting that the department has been receiving numerous calls of complaints about work continuing on construction projects in an unsafe manner.

“The Governor’s Executive pause order was a step in protecting the community, but unfortunately it did not go far enough, and left open far too many exempt businesses, which has caused great confusion and many complaints to the police department and the town,” Chief Sarlo said. “We are dealing with very limited scope of recommendations and only a small portion of commerce having been closed down. The trade parade continues unimpeded, into the township daily. We respect and appreciate the economic impact this situation has on small businesses and laborers, however the goal behind PAUSE was to drastically reduce the flow of people out and about, and reduce community spread. Unfortunately , with the nature of our community work force, the order did very little to that end.”

The chief also said that his officers are not empowered to enforce social distancing rules on public beaches or trails. He said the department is contributing to efforts to encourage safe social distancing but cannot use it’s policing authority to do so.

Earlier this week some local officials had called for new travel restrictions limiting who may come to the East End from parts west. Mr. Van Scoyoc and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone both said that such a limitation would be of little impact and should not be pursued.

“It is not something we are contemplating at this point,” Mr. Bellone said of an East End travel ban. “The virus is spread everywhere in our region. If anyone moves within the state anywhere they need to be following all of the health department guidance and social distancing restrictions.”

Thursday, 7 p.m.: 79 Cases On South Fork

By tomorrow, March 27, County Legislator Bridget Fleming expects the number of people tested for coronavirus to top 10,000.As of Thursday night, there had been 9,680 tests conducted countywide, with 2735 positive results, an increase of 855 from yesterday, Wednesday, March 25. Although testing efforts continue to ramp up, “ Ms. Fleming said, “we still fall far short of the number of tests we need.” She said that facilities like Peconic Landing in Greenport, which has been hit hard, have begun to act as if guests and staff have tested positive and implement safety precautions.

Offering the latest town-by-town figures, the legislator said the number of positive cases in East Hampton Town is 19, in Southampton there are 60 cases, with 570 in Islip Town, 538 in Huntington, 416 in Brookhaven, 387 in Babylon, 145 in Smithtown, 124 in Southold, 48 in Riverhead, and one in Shelter Island. There were 33 cases in Southampton Town on March 24, two days ago. Countywide, 22 people have died from COVID-19.

Of the positive cases, 287 patients have been hospitalized in Suffolk, up 81 from yesterday, March 25; 103 patients are in intensive care, 84 of those have been intubated. Intubated pateints require the use of a ventilator to breathe. Their scarcity has been a repeated concern expressed by elected leaders. The county is experimenting with splitting ventilators to allow use by two patients at once.

There were 67 virus victims reported in ICU units on Wednesday, and 50 on Tuesday, meaning the need for ICU has doubled in two days. The county is experimenting with splitting ventilators to allow use by two patients at once.

The latest cancellation: county parks camping reservations through April 15 are canceled, campers can reserve spots online for dates after May 1. Parks themselves are not closed, the lawmaker made clear.

On March 16, County Executive Steve Bellone ordered the closure of all public schools in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The closure was set to expire on April 1. Ms. Fleming said discussions regarding extending school closures are underway.

Thursday, 5 p.m.: Bellone Pleads For Social Distancing Compliance, For Sake Of Medical Staff

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital saw its second death on Wednesday night, a man in his 80s, as the number of available intensive care unit beds in the entire county dropped to just 68 after a doubling of the number of COVID-19 sufferers who are being kept alive with ventilators.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that despite the influx of thousands of new ventilators headed headed for the state, the demand will quickly outpace supply because of the length of time that COVID-19 patients may need to be given breathing support.

The typical patient in an ICU needs the help of a ventilator for three to four days but those infected with the novel coronavirus have been needed ventilators for between 11 and 21 days.

State and county officials said they are continuously re-evaluating what businesses qualify as “essential” and may continue working as complaints have streamed in about construction and landscaping crews not adhering to safe-distance edicts.

“The guidance is shifting daily,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said on Thursday, saying that the county Department of Labor should be notified using the county’s 311 phone system of any businesses that are not employing appropriate workplace spacing rules. “To the extent that businesses are not following the guidelines, or employees are being made to work that are sick or are not following social distancing, if someone has a concern they can call 311. We are not going to use a heavy hand. We’ll contact the businesses and work it off. We want to do everything we can to educate and advise these businesses.”

Mr. Bellone also pleaded with the general public to follow the social separation edict for the sake of health care workers who are being thrust increasingly into risky conditions at local hospitals by the growing number of infected patients.

Mr. Bellone concerns and sometimes angry criticism in social media of hospitals for the dwindling supplied of protect garb for healthcare workers. While he said the county and state are doing everything possible to direct a steady stream of new equipment to hospitals the anyone who is not, in turn, respecting the cautions called for by the government is failing to protect healthcare workers.

“If you are concerned about the health and welfare of these workers, the best way we can help them is...making sure that our hospitals don’t get overwhelmed,” Mr. Bellone said. He applauded those calling for support to the nurses and doctors on the “front lines” and asked others to use those appeals to demand their families and friends are taking the threats of spreading the virus through social contact seriously. “Channel that energy into not only making sure you are following the guidance but that you are pushing that out to your friends, onto social media.”

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.: Legislator Says Number Trends Are ‘Troubling’

County Legislator Bridget Fleming had “troubling” numbers to report Wednesday evening during her daily update. Across Suffolk, cases of those who tested positive for coronavirus increased by 380, to 2660 up from 1880 Tuesday. With 8453 tests conducted, the numbers demonstrate a 27 percent positive rate, the lawmaker said. Hospitalizations are up to 206 patients from 163 Tuesday, with 67 requiring intensive care. On Tuesday 50 patients were in ICU countywide. Twenty people have died countywide. The jump in new cases is troubling when compared to hospital capacity.

Offering a town-by-town breakdown, Ms. Fleming qualified the statistics, reporting that county IT staff was still developing an effort to digitize data. She reported 49 cases in Southampton, 12 in East Hampton, 479 in Islip, 426 in Huntington, 315 in Babylon, 331 in Brookhaven, 114 in Southold, 128 in Smithtown, and 40 in Riverhead.

As efforts to increase hospital capacity continue, Ms. Fleming said, private sector entities have come forward to offer space. Visit suffolkcounty.ny.gov and click on real estate under the surveys button to offer space. Ms. Fleming encouraged residents to take advantage of the county’s 311 information line. Volunteer operators can connect callers with services they need. It’s for anyone encountering challenges, she said. “Yesterday I spoke to a little girl who needed help with her homework.”

Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.: First COVID-19 Death At Southampton Hospital

A patient at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has died of complication from coronavirus infection and the Hamptons Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation announced on Wednesday that it has a patient who they suspect has been infected with COVID-19 virus.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced on Wednesday afternoon that a former resident of Peconic Landing, a man in his 80s, had died at SBSH. It is believed to be the first death of a patient at the hospital related to the coronavirus infection.

He is the fifth former Peconic Landing resident to die from an COVID-19 infection. An employee at the Greenport nursing and senior living facility was one of the first confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Suffolk County.

In a statement from the Southampton Village nursing home, the facility’s director said that the person is an elderly female resident who lives in one of the facility’s two dimentia units.

The statement says the woman had a temperature spike overnight on Tuesday and that a subsequent chest x-ray ordered by medical staff revealed signs of symptoms of coronavirus infection.

Though a test has not been given, the facility said it is treating the case as though it were a confirmed infection and that the woman and her roommate are being quarantined to their rooms and all patients in the same unit are now having their temperatures taken twice daily and are being monitored for respiratory symptoms. The center said that all staff caring for the woman and her roommate will wear protective gear and that sanitizing services in their room will be increased.

The center said that the families of both residents have been notified.

The center said it has notified the New York State Department of Health of the suspected case and is awaiting directives from them on what action, if any, should be taken.

“With the outbreak picking up strength in the area, we would expect to see additional cases in the coming weeks but are working diligently to both minimize the spread of the virus to the highest degree practical and catch symptoms from their earliest onset,” the care center said in its statement. “There are no suspected or confirmed cases on any other unit within the facility, which remains tightly co-horted.”

Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.: Sag Harbor School Staffer Tests Positive

The Sag Harbor School District announced Wednesday morning it has confirmed that more than one member of the school community has tested positive for Covid-19.

“While the district has not yet received official notification from the Department of Health confirming these test results, protecting the health and safety of our school community remains our primary concern, and therefore we wanted to inform you at this time,” said the district emailed to members of the school community just after 10:30 a.m. “We realize this news may be unsettling and that many of you will want more information; however, we want to be respectful of our community members’ privacy and must adhere to privacy laws.”

“The Sag Harbor School community remains committed to working together during this difficult time,” the email continued. “ In order to best protect one another, please review the important information and reminders found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

Wednesday 2 p.m.: Thousands Of Shrinks Volunteer For Free Mental Health Counseling

Six thousand mental health professionals have volunteered to provide free mental health counseling to New York residents through a state hotline during the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday morning.

Unemployment, fears about skyrocketing infection rates and the streses of quarantine have raised fears about mounting mental health problems and state officials had put out a call for new avenues for assistance for those who many not be able to afford counseling.

The governor said the response has been immense.

“God bless the 6,000 mental health professionals who are doing this 100 percent free, on top of whatever they have to do in their normal practice,” the governor said on Wednesday. “I’m sure in their normal practice, they’re busy, so this is really an extraordinary, extraordinary step by them.”

To make an appointment to speak with a mental health professional by phone or video conference, any state resident can call the New York State hotline, 1-844-863-9314.

“We’ve talked about the emotional stress that this brings on people and the mental health stress and the mental health challenges,” Governor Cuomo said during his daily briefing on Wednesday morning. “We’re all concerned about the immediate critical need, the life and death of the immediate situation, which is right. But don’t underestimate the emotional trauma that people are feeling.”

Tuesday, 9 p.m.: Cuomo Says Emergency Personnel, Hospital Workers Risking Their Lives ‘For Your Family’

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday asked the state’s residents to consider and applaud the work that medical workers and first responders are approaching at great personal risk each day as the coronavirus spread each day, in an appeal for respect to the state’s social distancing requiremets.

As New York State, now the nation’s most infected and fastest spreading state, engages in an nationwide and international struggle to drum up medical equipment and protective garb for its health care workers, the governor asked residents to consider the situations tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and emergency responders are putting themselves in for the sake of staving off the worst impacts of the virus on the sick.

“They are doing God’s work,” the governor said during a briefing on Tuesday. “Can you imagine the nurses who leave their homes in the morning, who kiss their children goodbye, go to a hospital, put on gowns, deal with people who have the coronavirus? They’re thinking all day long “Oh, my God, I hope I don’t get this. Oh my God, I hope I don’t get this and bring it home to my children.’ You want to talk about extraordinary individuals. Extraordinary.”

“They’re doing it for your family,” he added.

The governor made the emotional appeal as he detailed the supplies of medical equipment that is streaming into the state as part of wide-reaching effort to secure more critical medical equipment.

The governor pleaded with the federal government to direct medical equipment to th parts of the nation it is needed most — which New York tops the list of.

“New York is the canary in the coal mine” he said.”New York is going first. We have the highest and the fastest rate of infection. What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California, and Washington state, and Illinois, it’s just a matter of time. We’re just getting there first.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged on Tuesday to direct 4,000 ventilator machines to the state, according to U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin. It’s not clear how long it will take to muster the shipments of new machines. The state has said it could need as many as 30,000 additional ventilators as the COVID-19 epidemic hits its peak in New York.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone echoed the appeal for residents of Suffolk to adhere to social distancing orders, for the sake of the lives of people and the safety of those who have no choice but to put themselves at risk.

“This has been described as a war,” he said Tuesday. “If this is war, we all — those of us who are not on the front lines — we all have to do what we can to prevent the spread of this disease so that our health care system can keep up.”

Tuesday, 7p.m. :White House Says Fleeing New York City Residents Should Quarantine 14 Days

People who have left or passed through New York City should place themselves on 14-day quarantine, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force advised this afternoon. For the last two weeks social media sites have been flooded with locals’ complaints about the influx of New Yorkers arriving at East End second homes and erstwhile summer rentals. People leaving the city are already spreading the virus, coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said in a televised press conference this afternoon. She pointed to hot spots on Long Island as an indicator of the spread from Manhattan. Fifty six percent of the nation’s cases are coming out of the Metro area, she said.

The number of cases of coronavirus neared 50 on the South Fork, with 33 in Southampton Town and 13 in East Hampton, Legislator Bridget Fleming reported during her daily media update this evening. Elsewhere in Suffolk, there are 358 cases in Huntington Town, 281 in Brookhaven Town, 107 in Southold, 271 in the Town of Babylon, 120 in Smithtown, 395 in Islip, 39 in Riverhead, and two on Shelter Island. So far, there have been 7764 tests for the virus given, 3300 of them at the drive-thru site at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook. The county is working to craft an online system where people can check their results; it’s still taking up to three days to get them.

With 1880 cases across Suffolk today, about 25 percent of those tested receive positive results. Of the cases, 163 patients have been hospitalized, 50 in intensive care. Seventeen people have died. As the numbers are picking up at ICUs, the legislator said, “We need to insure everyone takes the social distancing very seriously and gives it a chance to work.”

“Our message remains the same,” Legislator Fleming said. “Stay at home especially these next two weeks.” She said health care professionals are concerned that as the weather improves, people will be tempted to ignore the New York PAUSE mandate to stay indoors and the ban on gatherings. Following those mandates “is critically important,” Ms. Fleming reminded.

The quest for medical supplies continues. The lawmaker reported the collection drive at the fire academy in Yaphank has been extremely successful. Tomorrow, starting at 10 a.m. another collection site will open at the county DPW yard in Westhampton. It’s on Old Riverhead Road, south of Gabreski Airport. Those interested in donating medical supplies can visit supply19@suffolkcounty.ny.gov.

3:30 p.m.: 17 Deaths In Suffolk Now

Seventeen people have died from the coronavirus in Suffolk County, up from 13, according to County Executive Steve Bellone, who noted he was reporting COVID deaths for the sixth day in a row.

The most recent four victims were elderly and had underlying medical conditions. They were three women — one in her 80s who died at Huntington Hospital, one in her 70s at Southside Hospital and one in her 80s at Mather Hospital — and a man in his 60s who died at Huntington Hospital. There were over 1,880 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, 422 in a 24-hour period, with over 7,000 tests conducted. Statewide, cases have exceeded 25,000.

During his daily update, Mr. Bellone restated the latest news from Governor Andrew Cuomo: the surge is expected to hit sooner than first predicted, and the number of cases and the need for hospital beds will be greater than anticipated. The hospital system was in the midst of a “herculean” effort to provide the predicted 110,000 beds within 40 days. Latest modeling changed the need to 140,000 beds within the next 10 to 14 days. “These are stark numbers,” Mr. Bellone said.

The county executive spoke of new viral pandemic protocols for first responders, who must ensure those with the most severe cases are treated first. If EMS personnel are called to a scene, they must screen patients for the severity of their symptoms, their age or underlying conditions, and then decide if they need to be taken to the hospital.

If they don’t meet the criteria, they will be given advice regarding when to go to the hospital. There are 2,626 hospital beds countywide. Fifty of the current patients are in ICU.

There’s been overwhelming support for the county’s medical supplies collection drive located at the fire academy in Yaphank, Mr. Bellone said.

“People came out in the rain” on Monday and donated 284 pieces of Personal Protection Equipment, he said. Eastern Suffolk BOCES brought five van loads of gear. The county executive plans to create two more collection sites, one on the eastern end of the county.

Speaking to cases of blatant disregard of the order banning gatherings of groups, he said police have the authority to break up groups of people.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The number of cases of coronavirus in Suffolk county hit 1,880 this week, with over 400 new cases since Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported on Tuesday morning, speaking from the Javits Center in New York, where the Army Corps of Engineers was setting up an emergency hospital. Statewide, cases have exceeded 25,000.

He presented “new facts that are not encouraging.” Experts predict the state will hit its apex of cases in 14 days, with the rate of new cases doubling every three days. The acceleration was described to the governor as moving from freight train to bullet train in speed.

New projections suggest the need for hospital beds at the apex at 140,000, up from the earlier projection of 100,000, with 40,000 of those beds needed in intensive care units.

“Those are troubling and astronomical numbers,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It’s clear we must dramatically increase hospital capacity, and we must do it very quickly.”

Even if every hospital could increase its capacity by 100 percent, there would still be a shortage of 40,000 beds. The emergency and temporary hospitals will help, the governor said.

“That’s nowhere near the number of beds we’re going to need,” he said.

He’s looking at college campus dorm rooms and taking over hotels as possible stop gaps.

“I will turn this state upside down to get the number of beds we need,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Ventilators continue to be the critical need. They are the difference between life and death for critical patients, he said,

“We have scoured the globe and … you cannot buy them, you cannot find them,” he said.

The governor took a harsh tone, reporting that the federal government has a stockpile of 20,000 ventilators. Once again, he called upon President Donald Trump to order manufacturers to make them by invoking the Defense Production Act.

“New York is the canary in the coal mine,” Mr. Cuomo said, noting that the state has 10 times as many cases as any other state.

He called on the federal government to deploy the ventilators it has where the need is greatest, and once New York’s apex has passed, vowed to take personal responsibility for transporting them anywhere in the country they are needed.

To reports that FEMA was sending 400 ventilators to New York, the governor waxed sarcastic.

“I need 30,000. You want a pat on the back? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem,” he said.

He said experiments were underway to see if ventilators may be split, with separate tubes and pipes, so that one may serve two people. Also, drug trials for both treatment and to determine if people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that may be useful in treatment have begun.

The governor said that 80 percent of positive cases self resolve, and 20 percent need hospitalization. Although that’s only 1 or 2 percent of the population, he said, “It’s lives. … it’s my mother, it’s your mother.”

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