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COVID-19 deaths trending higher in Suffolk than in Nassau, state figures show

Nurse practitioner Deborah Beauplan, left, and nurse Kristal

Nurse practitioner Deborah Beauplan, left, and nurse Kristal Vazquez prepare to administer COVID-19 swab tests at Smith Point Park in Shirley earlier this month. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Suffolk County on Friday continued a string of relatively high deaths due to COVID-19 — registering 11, compared with 2 in Nassau County — as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged New Yorkers to keep up their guard through the holiday season.

Over the past week, Suffolk has had 88 deaths, compared with 47 in Nassau, which has a similar though slightly lower population, according to state figures.

On Thursday, Suffolk County's 11 deaths were the same number as Brooklyn, which has a million more residents than Suffolk's 1.47 million population, state figures show.

Sean Clouston, an associate professor of public health at Stony Brook University, has said that "for the deaths to jump like this, the most likely culprit is that COVID spread to older family members at Thanksgiving more in Suffolk than Nassau, or that people working at or visiting nursing homes exposed nursing home residents at or after Thanksgiving."

Clouston said the coronavirus "spreads through a network of close family and friends and harms vulnerable people with whom they work or within their extended family."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the deaths.

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Both Suffolk and Nassau registered more than 1,000 new cases each on Thursday, a far cry from the summer when each had reduced daily cases to double digits.

Suffolk had 1,270 new cases for a total of 87,985. Nassau had 1,096 new cases for a total of 81,099, according to state figures.

Overall, Long Island's average infection rate over seven days was 6.45%, about where it has hovered for several days, according to the state figures.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran emphasized that if people remain smart in the face of the virus, they can avoid shutdowns of the economy.

"I urge residents to remain vigilant during this tricky phase of the COVID War," Curran said in a statement. "I know how hard it is to forgo holiday traditions, but the end of the fight is near. If we stay smart, we stay safe. If we stay safe, we avoid shutdowns and build momentum for our economic recovery."

With less than a week left in 2020, New York's number of virus cases and deaths continued to rise, even as Cuomo implored people to remain vigilant.

"New York made it through Thanksgiving better than most places, so as we celebrate Christmas today it's critical we retain that momentum and remember that celebrating smart stops shutdowns," Cuomo said in a news release.

Across the state, a total of 6,950 people were hospitalized Thursday, an increase of 22 over Wednesday, state figures showed. A total of 1,148 people were in the ICU, with 621 on intubation. The state had 122 deaths.

New York City had 4,171 new cases for a total of 400,473, state figures showed.

"While the vaccine is now here, we are still months away from widespread vaccination and finally reaching that light at the end of the tunnel," Cuomo said. "We are in a foot race between distributing the vaccine and slowing the spread. While the state is doing everything it can to get people vaccinated, it's on the rest of us to stay tough and keep practicing safe behaviors in the meantime."

With David Olson

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