COVID-19 UPDATE: Phase Two Reopening Begins - 27 East

COVID-19 UPDATE: Phase Two Reopening Begins

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Phase two

Phase two

authorStaff Writer on Jun 4, 2020

Wednesday, noon: Reopening Means Double Down on Diligence; Phase Two Begins On Long Island

Monitoring daily test results is key to reopening plans, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday during his daily COVID-19 update, given from LaGuardia Airport in Queens. On Sunday 1.0 percent of tests came back with a positive result on Long Island. Monday saw 1.2 percent positive result, with a percentage of .9 on Tuesday. In Suffolk County yesterday, 4,099 tests were given. Daily, the governor said, 50,000 tests are given in New York State.

Every region in the state is now reopening, and data must be monitored, the new focus, the governor said, must be on watching the numbers. As reopening progresses, everyone has a role to play, Mr. Cuomo said, and must double down on diligence. “What determines the virus spread?” he asked, then answered, “We do.”

The governor spoke of other regions in the nation that reopened and, in Texas, there have been 365 new cases since Memorial day. California and Florida both have curves on the ascent. More states that reopened quickly have gotten into trouble than not, he said.

New York City has opened at phase one and phase two began on Long Island today, Wednesday, June 10.

The following industries and business activities are included in Phase 2 of reopening: outdoor dining at restaurants, hair salons and barbershops (for hair treatments only), office spaces, in-store retail, previously deemed non-essential, real estate, vehicle sales, leases and rental, commercial building management, and retail rental, repair, and cleaning businesses.

All businesses, including essential businesses, must develop a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which should include the ways in which the business intends to comply with the issued guidance to safely reopen. The plan must be filed with the state.

Specific guidance, as well as safety plan templates and links to required affirmations may be found here: forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries.

Tuesday, 3 p.m.: County Debuts ‘Suffolk Cares’ Nonperishable Food Delivery For Homebound Residents

Beginning today, Suffolk County residents who need food but do not have access to transportation may call 311 to receive nonperishable food items courtesy “Suffolk Cares,” a new county program.

County Executive Steve Bellone said the county is working with Long Island Cares and partnering with town governments to provide food to homebound residents.

Calls to 311 will be received between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those who call on Friday will receive their food delivery on Monday, Mr. Bellone noted.

The COVID-19 death toll increased by four in Suffolk County, Mr. Bellone announced, bringing the total to 1,939. Also in the past day, 10 more patients have been discharged from Suffolk County hospitals to continue their recoveries at home. There are 155 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Suffolk County, including 47 in intensive care. There were 49 more positives tests for COVID-19, bringing the total over the course of the crisis in Suffolk County to 40,426.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.: Governor Approves Phase Two For Long Island

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday authorized the Long Island region to enter phase two of reopening on Wednesday, June 10.

“New York’s team of global public health experts advising the state’s reopening strategy has reviewed the numbers and data for Long Island and cleared this region to proceed with phase two of reopening beginning tomorrow, June 10th,” the governor said in a statement.

“As more regions across the state continue with the reopening process, New Yorkers should remember it was because of their hard work that we have been able to bend the curve and reopen this quickly, and all individuals should continue to follow the necessary guidelines and precautions to help prevent a renewed increase in the spread of the virus,” the statement read.

Phase two includes some office reopening, real estate office, vehicle sales, increased retail uses, outdoor dining and hair salons and barbershops, among other industries.

Tuesday, noon: New State Dashboard Looks At Infection Rate

Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday displayed a new state “dashboard” designed to offer figures to the public on a daily basis.

It tracks and compares the number of tests given in the region, the number of positive results, and computes the infection rate. Monday on Long Island, for example, 7,257 tests were given, with 82 people testing positive, for an infection rate of 1 percent. The focus will turn, he said, to viral spread.

If the number of cases goes up, and officials cannot identify the source of an increase, if you can’t stop it, then you have an issue and you have to dial back to valve, he said.

The governor said he’s still planning on two weeks between phases, because hospitalization rates would show infection increases within that time frame.

Monday, 4:10 p.m.: Suffolk County Asks State To Permit Larger Graduation Ceremonies

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is asking the state to give Long Island school districts more flexibility to hold traditional graduation ceremonies after Governor Andrew Cuomo OK’d ceremonies later this month with only 150 people in attendance.

“That is a number that would work well, probably, in many areas of the state, but difficult on Long Island with our size and density here,” Mr. Bellone said Monday afternoon during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “It is a challenge. So we’ve requested the state to provide more flexibility there to allow Long Island school districts to work with the local health department to put forward plans that address our larger size and the issues involved in making sure that can be done safely.”

Suffolk County is continuing to see a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“We really want to stay below a hundred new positives every day,” Mr. Bellone said.

There were just 48 new positive tests in the last 24-hour reporting period, bringing the county’s total cases to 40,377. There have also been 15,757 people who have tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 fell by 21 in Suffolk County. As of Saturday, 158 people were hospitalized.

Hospitals are 63 percent full and ICU beds are 56 percent full. There were 26 COVID patients discharged from hospitals.

The number of people who have died from COVID rose by four, bringing the county’s death toll to 1,935.

Governor Delays School Votes By One Week

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday issued an executive order extending the deadline for school district votes until June 16. The deadline had been Tuesday, June 9. Under the new rules, ballots can be accepted by districts by hand delivery through 5 p.m. on June 9 and received by mail through June 16.

The governor also signed legislation extending the date when absentee ballots must be postmarked for the June 23 primary. To be counted, votes must be postmarked by June 23. Earlier, the governor had issued an executive order allowing all New Yorkers to cast absentee ballots in the June 23 election and ensuring all eligible voters for the primary receive a postage-paid absentee ballot application in the mail.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world, and while we are making great progress and the numbers keep going down, no New Yorker should have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” the governor said in a press release.

School districts had been scrambling to print ballots and send them to all eligible voters in their district in a timely fashion before the latest executive order.

Sunday, 2:30 p.m.: Suffolk County Drops Below 200 Hospitalized For COVID-19

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone noted that on June 5 the county hit a “critical benchmark,” with the number of patients countywide hospitalized for COVID-19 dropping below 200 for the first time since the crisis began.

Mr. Bellone said the number hospitalized, which hit a peak at 1,658 patients, dropped 21 to 179 on June 5. The number of patients in intensive care units fell by three to 50.

At the same time, after dropping as low as a single case one day earlier in the week, there were eight deaths reported in the 24-hour period, bringing the total deaths in Suffolk County attributed to COVID-19 to 1,931.

Mr. Bellone also noted that there were just 51 new positive test results on June 5, continuing a promising trend.

On a sunny Sunday, the county’s two beaches both reached capacity today, he reported, with the capacity reduced 50 percent, according to social distancing measures.

Sunday, 12:30 p.m.: Governor Says State Will Allow Some Outdoor Graduation Ceremonies In Late June

For the time being, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday, graduation ceremonies held outdoors, with social distancing measures in place, and involving 150 people or less will be permitted starting June 26.

The governor noted that the move is tentative and will depend on what the data show in the coming weeks about whether the novel coronavirus is still in check or begins to spread again. “We have a little time to see between now and then,” he said.

The governor celebrated the state’s “extraordinary accomplishment” in actually “bending the curve” — the latest numbers show the number of new deaths on Sunday in the dozens instead of the hundreds, and new cases are much lower.

But he also noted that, as New York City enters phase one of reopening on Monday, he’s calling for stepped-up testing, some 35,000 tests per day, to monitor the situation.

He also noted the potential impact of protests, particularly the massive turnouts in New York City in recent days. Despite the fact that most protesters were masked, he worried that it could lead to a resurgence of the virus.

As a result, Mr. Cuomo announced Sunday that anyone who has participated in a public protest is now eligible to be tested for COVID-19. “Act responsibly — get a test,” he said.

Even as he favorably compared the New York State response to the COVID-19 crisis to other parts of the country, which are seeing numbers going up again as activities resume, he urged residents to continue to be vigilant in observing social distancing, hand washing and other measures that have proven effective.

“We’ve come a long way, and a lot of people have suffered to get here, a lot of people died,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Let’s not be foolish now.”

Saturday, 12:30 p.m.: Governor Announces Houses Of Worship Can Open at 25 Percent Capacity

Governor Andrew Cuomo, citing improving metrics in the fight against the coronavirus, announced that houses of worship will be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity, as part of the state’s Phase Two reopening measures, which includes the Long Island region.

“It doesn’t mean you can go to a temple or a mosque and sit right next to a person,” the governor said, adding that people need to act responsibly and continue to maintain a safe distance and wear masks. “We leave it to our faith-based partners to come up with a strategy” for how they will meet the guidelines, he said.

The governor expressed optimism about the progress against the pandemic. He said 35 people had died Friday, and the number of hospitalizations continued to fall off to about 1,200.

“We’d like to see nobody die in the State of New York ever, but this is really, really good news,” he said. “Compared to where we were, this is a big sigh of relief.”

As a result, Mr. Cuomo said New York City had been cleared to enter Phase One of reopening, starting on Monday. As such, construction, manufacturing, and curbside pickup at restaurants and retails stores can resume, he said.

As the coronavirus recedes, civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 30 continues. Mr. Cuomo said protests in the state were largely peaceful on Friday.

“This is a national moment for change, and New York is going to lead the way on this change,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said the state legislature will return to session next week and take up the “Say His Name” agenda, which will include measures barring state police departments from using chokeholds, providing transparency in past police disciplinary proceedings, targeting false, race-based 911 calls, and requiring that independent prosecutors be named in cases involving deaths of suspects in police custody.

The governor stressed that police had to do their jobs, and prevent looting, arson, and other violent acts at protests, but “they don’t have the right to abuse, to hurt, to use unnecessary force.”

And he added “any police officer who acts wrongfully will be called to task.”

He noted that the videotaped demonstrations are like “reality TV” and that the state’s attorney general would investigate any acts of police brutality and said it was important that police and prosecutors disclose if there are any mitigating factors that are not evident in videos.

Friday, 3:30 p.m.: Long Island Ducks Could Resume Play In July With 25 Percent Stadium Capacity

Suffolk County and the Long Island Ducks, an Atlantic League baseball team, are sending a proposal to New York State to reopen the team’s Central Islip stadium for ballgames in mid-July with fans in the stands.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday that the plan calls for a maximum stadium capacity of just 25 percent so families can enjoy baseball games together while maintaining social distance from others who are not with their group.

Though the proposed stadium capacity is low it would still be more fans in the stands than the idea previously floated by the governor: allowing major league sports teams to play televised games with empty stadiums.

On another topic, Mr. Bellone expressed sympathy with students who are unable to have a property high school graduation. The state is only permitting drive-thru graduation ceremonies right now, but more traditional ceremonies could possibly be permitted in July or later.

“Suffolk Students and their families deserve the chance to have live high school graduations,” he said in a statement Friday. “That’s why, last month, I began working with the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association to develop a plan. I believe that we can do this safely and therefore we should do this because this is truly one of life’s special moments for students and parents. The state has said they will be revisiting the issue and we urge them to do so as quickly as possible.”

In anticipation of phase two of Long Island’s phased reopening beginning on Wednesday, small businesses in Suffolk County will be able to request, starting Monday, face coverings and hand sanitizer for employees. The county will supply reusable cloth face coverings and gallon jugs of New York State Clean hand sanitizer.

The number of COVID-19 fatalities in Suffolk County rose by two over the last 24-hour reporting period, bringing the total to 1,918. The day before, the one-day death toll was one.

Friday, 12:50 p.m.: Southampton Town Hall Opens Monday By Appointment

Southampton Town plans to open town hall on Monday, June 8, with restrictions. Public access will be limited to the main entrance only. Those who need to enter via the ramp on the southside of the building will be provided with a phone number to call to use that entrance. Barriers have been installed at counters throughout town facilities, and markers have been installed.

Officials encourage members of the public to make appointments prior to visit to limit the amount of time they have to wait on a line. There will be entry-only corridors and exit only corridors to control public access, as well as an “Up” stairwell and a “down stairwell to prevent people from passing each other in a small area. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and visitors will be given passes describing which department they’re heading to.

The town’s plan for reopening includes enhanced facility cleaning and continuing the use of mail drop-off options at town hall, using the lobby box, for leaving such documents as tax bill payments. Tax payments are accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For those, no appointment is necessary and the guard at the door will offer assistance.

This initial phase of reopening can be expected to last at least two weeks. Changing circumstance, of course, will impact that schedule. The town’s website and SEA-TV Channel 22 will be regularly updated to provide the public with the most current information about access to town departments and town programs.

The executive order limiting the use of all town beaches to residents and legal residents until June 10 and restricts roadside parking near beaches in Southampton Town was signed Friday and is likely to be extended. By law, executive orders suspending local laws must sunset after five days. This order is an extension of previous edicts.

Thursday, 3:40 p.m.: Suffolk County Contact Tracing Town Hall Starts at 6:30 p.m. on Facebook; One-Day County Death Toll Falls To One; Discretionary Budget Cuts Planned

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming of Noyac will join County Executive Steve Bellone for a “Contact Tracer Town Hall” on Facebook Live Thursday evening at 6:30.

The lawmakers will discuss the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the County Department of Health Services’ contact tracer program as the county prepares to move into phase two of reopening Wednesday.

To join the virtual event, visit facebook.com/stevebellone at 6:30 p.m.

Mr. Bellone announced during his daily briefing Thursday afternoon that he is planning an across the board 5 percent cut in discretionary spending to begin to address the budget deficit the county finds itself in due to the COVID-19 crisis. The county is looking at a worst-case-scenario $590 million deficit in 2020, and his proposed 5 percent cut would equal only $60 million in savings. He once again urged the federal government to step up to help the county financially.

“Our sales taxes have plunged — which is our primary source of revenue — while at the same time our expenses have never been greater,” Mr. Bellone said.

He said he asked all departments to identify places to make cuts for the county’s next annual budget.

There have been 40,153 people in Suffolk County who have tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 91 in 24 hours. It’s a good number when it stays below 100 per day, Mr. Bellone said.

The county is down to 225 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, a decrease of 11. Only 56 patients are on ICU beds, a decrease of five.

Of all the hospital beds in Suffolk County, 65 percent are in use, and of the ICU beds specifically, 53 percent are occupied.

The COVID-19 death toll in Suffolk County rose by just one. The total is now 1,916. “We have not been down to that level since the third week in March,” Mr. Bellone said.

Thursday: Phase Two Begins Wednesday, Public Gardens Can Open Now

Phase two reopening for Long Island is slated to begin Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his daily update on Thursday.

He stressed outdoor dining, which has been added, is space outside with the sky overhead, not indoors.

Concurrently, members of the Southampton Town Board discussed the movement of outdoor dining, as well as the opening of outdoor cultural sites and gardens into phase two and the immediate opening of outdoor cultural sites and gardens

Town Code and Emergency Management Administrator Ryan Murphy announced that some of the town’s botanical and cultural gardens would be able to open immediately. The town argued they are the same as parks and should be afforded the opportunity to reopen, he said, offering that Southampton “led the charge” on the request, accompanied by officials from East Hampton Town.

Speaking to outdoor dining, Mr. Murphy said he has been working on that for a couple weeks with fire marshal, who has been “very creative” in trying to develop solutions to provide some emergency relief to restaurants. He’s also been working with the department of land management to develop mechanisms to allow for emergency relief for establishments that want to expand their footprints. If a place doesn’t already have outdoor dining, he said the town will work with them to help them come close to achieving the same capacity would have had before.

There’s a form to be filled out and, Mr. Murphy said, “We’re, making it as simple as possible.”

The state will allow for outdoor drive-in and drive-thru graduation ceremonies, but will continue to evaluate, the governor said.

On day 96 of the COVID pandemic, and day 11 of the protests against the killing of George Floyd, Mr. Cuomo spoke of the collision of social issues. He thanked those who protested peacefully. “Many were wearing masks, thank God,” he said. If you were at a protest, assume you were exposed, he warned.

There’s a lag — it can be four or five days before any symptoms show — so a viral spread for protests may not be immediately evident. It’s important people act responsibly, the governor said. Protests could have so-called “super spreaders” in them — people who are infected and asymptomatic and infect others. Crowds of protesters unable to social distance could compound the problem.

The governor reported “continued good news,” noting hospitalizations are still decreasing across the state. Overall, he said, movement has been positive.

In New York, “the testing capital of the world,” 50,000 coronavirus tests are given today. On Long Island, the percentage of positive results was 2, compared to six weeks ago, when 20 percent of tests had positive results.

“Everything we’re doing is smart and it’s working,” the governor said. “But as fast as it comes down is as fast as it can go up.”

Assuring he was “not being a nervous Nelly, I just read the numbers,” he said, alluding to diagrams of the infection curves in other states that have reopened, then saw surges.

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