Dr. Jacqueline Delmont, chief medical officer of Somos Community Care,...

Dr. Jacqueline Delmont, chief medical officer of Somos Community Care, left, holds up an armband that signifies the client has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies at a drive-thru testing site in Hempstead on Tuesday. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

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MTA, unions agree on $500,000 payout

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Tuesday a benefits package for families of the 59 workers killed by the coronavirus that includes a $500,000 payment. MTA chairman Patrick Foye said the authority reached the agreement with some of its largest unions, including the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents New York City bus and subway workers, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, or SMART — the Long Island Rail Road's largest labor organization.

"This is a first-in-the-nation agreement that will protect and provide the families of those we have lost with substantial benefits befitting the tragic loss they've experienced," Foye said at a news conference at the MTA's Manhattan headquarters.

The benefits include three years of health insurance benefits to spouses or dependents under the age of 26. Foye said the agreement, which still must be ratified by the full MTA Board on April 22, will be extended to other unions, as well as to non-union MTA workers. The program will be funded through the MTA's operating budget, which already was under financial stress. Foye would not disclose an estimated cost for the program.

Foye said he developed the plan working with John Samuelsen, international chairman of the Transport Workers Union, which has been critical of the MTA’s efforts in protecting employees from the virus and has pushed for fallen workers to be paid $500,000 each in "line of duty" death benefits. In a statement, Samuelsen said the agreement "is a recognition of the incredible contributions and sacrifices our workforce has made."

SMART general chairman Anthony Simon similarly called it "a major step in reassuring our workers out there on the front lines that we know the risk they are taking." — ALFONSO CASTILLO

Northwell offers priority care to first responders

First responders and front-line health care workers will be given priority access to evaluation, care and testing during the coronavirus crisis at the 52 Northwell Health urgent care centers across Long Island, New York and Westchester, the network said Tuesday. 

Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care said it has reached agreements with first responder agencies and medical organizations, including the Nassau County Police Department, the NYPD, FDNY, New York State Police and New York City Department of Corrections to provide streamlined services to their employees. 

Northwell Health-GoHealth on Monday established a call center to offer this service. Participating agencies have been given a phone number that employees can call to book appointments for the medical exams and diagnostic tests, including testing for COVID-19. — MICHAEL O'KEEFFE

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing:

New York City sees uptick in two key indicators, de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio, at his daily news conference on Tuesday, said that the number of people admitted to the hospital for suspected coronavirus cases went down to 326 on April 12 from 383 on April 11. There’s a two-day lag in this data.

But the daily number of those admitted to intensive-care units at city-run hospitals is up to 850 from 835 over the same two-day period, as is the percent of those testing positive: 59.6% citywide vs. 58.1% during the previous period.

These three indicators are what de Blasio has said the city will monitor to determine whether to begin to loosen restrictions such as those on public gatherings and business operations.

He also said that face shields and surgical gowns would begin to be manufactured on a bigger scale in New York City. He also said that the city would begin to manufacture test kits and announced an arrangement to buy kits from a manufacturer in Indiana. — MATTHEW CHAYES

Northwell says numbers are 'moving downward'

Northwell Health said Tuesday it has 3,153 COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals, which include 11 on Long Island. The health system had been reporting more than 3,300 admitted patients each day last week.

"It's encouraging news, and it certainly appears like we are moving downward," said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman. 

Northwell said its high point for COVID-19 patients was April 7, when 3,425 patients were hospitalized.

Five Long Island hospitals had an ICU occupancy rate above 90%: Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore University Hospital, Mather Hospital, LIJ-Valley Stream and Syosset Hospital.

The overall ICU occupancy rate at Northwell hospitals was 86%. Lynam added that 72% of its ventilators are in use. 

Northwell has about 1,100 ventilators in use. Northwell converted some bi-level positive pressure machines (BiPAP) and anesthesia machines into ventilators. — DAVID REICH-HALE

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

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