Local and County Government Navigates a New World - 27 East

Local and County Government Navigates a New World

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Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming working from home.

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming working from home.

County Executive steve Bellone held daily updates for his children's playroom while under self-quarantine

County Executive steve Bellone held daily updates for his children's playroom while under self-quarantine

In Southampton Village, Julie Fitzgerald and Patricia Lederman worked on signs offering COVID-19 warnings and advice.

In Southampton Village, Julie Fitzgerald and Patricia Lederman worked on signs offering COVID-19 warnings and advice.

At the Speonk Post Office, new acryllic windows were installed to protect workers and the public.

At the Speonk Post Office, new acryllic windows were installed to protect workers and the public.

Kitty Merrill on Apr 1, 2020

From daily video-streamed updates and teleconferences, from social media posts to press releases, county, town and village leaders are wrapping their arms around a new world and ways of operating through the coronavirus crisis.

On the county level, that involves providing information about resources, as well as often grim, ever-increasing numbers of cases and deaths.

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. Over17,6000 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 their 70s to late 90s, and suffering from 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 pointed out.

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.

Throughout the crisis, the county executive has held daily press briefings via teleconference.

County Legislator Bridget Fleming provides weekday evening updates to the media, and frequent Facebook updates for the public. She’s highlighted the work of volunteers manning the Suffolk 311 number, which serves as a clearing house of sorts. Dial the number and an operator can connect you with services.

The quest for medical supplies continues. The lawmaker reported the collection drive that began at the fire academy in Yaphank has been extremely successful. Those interested in donating medical supplies can visit supply19@suffolkcounty.ny.gov.

In Southampton Town, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman on Monday issued an order extending the town’s state of emergency. The edict mirrors last week’s announcement from Governor Andrew Cuomo that schools and non-essential businesses remain closed until April 15.

The town’s All Seniors Assistance Program, a delivery service for seniors, had a successful rollout. By Tuesday, some 800 seniors had signed up. Registration information for the program can be found on the town’s website, southamptontownny.gov.

The Town Board next meets on April 14. Supervisor Schneiderman said that while it will be closed to the public and aired live on SEATV, he expects the board to meet in person and maintain social distance.

East Hampton Town officials made quick work of their first Zoom board meeting last Friday, their focus predominantly the coronavirus crisis, the need to adhere to New York PAUSE strictures, and the latest state guidance mandating the cessation of non-essential construction.

People can sign up for alerts from the town at ehamptonny.gov by clicking the “Stay Connected” button on the home page. The town’s website provides information and updates in both English and Spanish, with links to a panoply of regional services.

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc reported that he and counterparts across the county participate in conference calls daily with Mr. Bellone, which affords them the opportunity to express concerns related to their individual communities, ask questions, and get answers.

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.

The East Hampton Village Board announced plans to hold a virtual video meeting on April 2 at 11 a.m. It will be live streamed on LTV’s channel 22 or on the LTV website.

Village budgets were due for submission by March 31. Visit individual websites to view them, many are posted. Public hearings slated for April will be held via Zoom video conferencing or as “call-in” events.

Quogue Village alerted residents that it would delay accepting applications for beach passes, which generally begins on April 1 until at least May 1.

In the Village of East Hampton, stickers are on sale and available through an online application process. The same is true in the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton. In most cases, applicants are asked to send payments as well as self-addressed stamped envelopes and stickers will be mailed to them.

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