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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates from April 17-19

Sands Point police officers touch ambulance carrying the

Sands Point police officers touch ambulance carrying the remains of their fellow officer, Sands Point Sgt. Joseph Spinosa, outside Winthrop in Mineola on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

Newsday is providing all readers with access to this breaking news blog on important developments about the coronavirus and our community.

What's happened:

  • Newsday spent three days inside an LI hospital under siege by coronavirus. We chronicled how COVID-19 has transformed Mount Sinai South Nassau and the way medical professionals deliver care.
  • Gov. Cuomo has ordered that marinas and many golf courses can reopen with safety restrictions after being closed to contain the COVID-19 virus.
  •  

Trump pushes back on testing criticism

President Donald Trump, speaking at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, pushed back on criticism from state governors who have argued that his administration has not done enough to aid states in securing supplies like testing swabs and reagent chemicals to ramp up testing.

“Our testing is expanding very rapidly by millions and millions of people,” Trump said. Moments later he pulled out a testing swab from his pocket to say the production of such swabs was “not very complicated.”The president said he is also preparing to use the Defense Production Act to increase production of testing swabs.

Laura Figueroa Hernandez 

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's Sunday's briefing

Bellone: Suffolk COVID-19 deaths climb, hospitalizations down
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Sunday said 132 people have died of COVID-19 in the past three days bringing the county total to 825.
“Those numbers speak for themselves and they are staggering, Bellone said Sunday afternoon during a briefing on toll taken by the coronavirus on Suffolk County.
He said hospitalizations countywide for the virus have declined “and that is very good news.”
Are we on a downward trajectory or are we just bouncing up and down,” Bellone asked. “We have now seen the steepest decline in  hospitalizations, 97 few people hospitalized in the past "24 hours".
Bellone said 1,441 COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized in Suffolk.
Newsday Staff.

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Pence says states could soon double daily testing

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said the Trump Administration expected states could double the number of COVID-19 tests conducted per day, but governors on both sides of the aisle in hard-hit states warned that a ramp-up of testing is not possible without the federal government coordinating the distribution of scarce testing supplies.
Pence, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” said the administration expected testing could increase from 150,000 tests per day to 300,000, if governors were to “activate all of the laboratories that are available in their states.”


“We believe that working with the governors, as we’ll continue to partner with them, that we can activate labs across the country,” Pence told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
Pence’s assertion came as other governors, including Maryland Republican Larry Hogan, Michigan Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, and Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam, argued that while their states may have the capacity to open labs and scale-up testing they are lacking swabs and reagent chemicals needed to run the tests.
Laura Figueroa Hernandez

Watch Gov. Cuomo’s Sunday's press briefing

Cuomo: State to launch testing survey

New York will conduct an antibody testing survey over the next week, sampling thousands of people from across the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said during his daily press briefing on Sunday.

“That will tell us, for the first time, what percent of the population actually has had the coronavirus and is now, at least short term, immune to the virus,” Cuomo said. “This will be the first true snapshot of what we’re really dealing with."

The state will coordinate with private labs and the federal government on ramping up diagnostic testing, which determines whether or not someone is currently positive or negative with the virus, Cuomo added at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset on Sunday.

—Newsday Staff

Northwell Health: Number of COVID-19 patients down 25% since peak

Northwell Health on Sunday morning said it has 2,616 COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals, which include 11 on Long Island. That’s down roughly 25% since the peak.

Only two of its hospitals, LIJ Valley Stream and LIJ Forest Hills, have an ICU occupancy rate above 90%, although North Shore University Hospital is at 89%, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman.

Also, ventilators aren’t an issue. About 60% of Northwell’s vents are in use. About 72% of the health system’s 1,100 ventilators were in use a little less than a week ago. The ventilators include converted bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines and anesthesia machines.

David Reich-Hale

De Blasio: Trump must step up and help New York City

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave President Donald Trump a stark choice on Sunday regarding helping the city overcome the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“President Trump, this is as simple as this: This is a moment you can actually help to save your hometown, or you can turn away and can fail to protect New Yorkers,” de Blasio said at his daily update on the pandemic. “Right now, you are failing to protect the very people you grew up around, the very people who gave you every opportunity. Every opportunity you had in your life came from New York City. But when New York City is in need, where are you?” 

The mayor's comments came as the city and state continued to see trends showing the coronavirus pandemic may have passed its plateau.

De Blasio acknowledged the positive trends but said now is not the time for people to let their guard down.

“Just remember what we said weeks and weeks ago about the dangers facing anyone over 65 or 70,” de Blasio said. “There needs to be caution because we are in the middle of this crisis ... this disease is still out there.”

De Blasio urged the president to get behind House legislation providing additional funding to cities and states nationwide.

“The House, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is ready to move forward,” the mayor said. “Senate Republicans are standing in the way of the states and cities getting back on their feet.” 

Republican opposition to the bill would evaporate if Trump got behind the measure, he said. 

“But the president has been silent. So President Trump, what’s going on, cat got your tongue? You are usually really talkative," the mayor said. "You usually have an opinion on everything.

“How on Earth do you not have an opinion on aid to America’s cities and states?”

Michael O'Keefe

Cuomo orders marinas, some golf courses, reopened with restrictions

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered that marinas and many golf courses can reopen with safety restrictions after being closed to contain the COVID-19 virus.

Cuomo struck the boating agreement Saturday with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut. The decision allows marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers to open for personal rather than commercial use as long as participants adhere to social distancing rules by keeping at least 6 feet apart at all times.

Some golf courses will also reopen, according to a state decision issued Friday.

Private courses can now allow golfers to walk the fairways but they must carry their own bags. State and other public courses are still closed, but municipally owned courses can open under restrictions, with local officials making the final determination. No employees — caddies, bartenders and others — can work on any course unless they are involved in essential services such as grounds maintenance, state officials said Saturday.

In addition, golfers at any reopened courses must adhere to tight safety protocols that include "no gatherings of any kind and appropriate social distancing of 6 feet between individuals."
Newsday staff

 

Saturday updates

De Blasio: Trump 'did not get' NY testing

Appearing Saturday night on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said President Donald Trump was wrong when he said that states like New York are "complaining" and failing to make adequate use of the "tremendous capacity" of testing offered by the federal government.

"Donald Trump blew it January, in February, in March. He did not get us testing. If he had, it could have changed the entire course of this crisis. I can't tell you how many thousands of lives — I mean we'll never know, but I know it would have been thousands of thousands of lives, that could have been saved — and now he's in denial," de Blasio said, adding: "We can't make testing appear out of thin air." — MATTHEW CHAYES

Trump: 'We are winning' war against COVID-19

At his daily coronavirus briefing Saturday, President Donald Trump said "we continue to see positive signs that the virus" is past its peak. "We are winning" the COVID-19 war, he said, noting that the United States has a lower mortality rate from the coronavirus per capita "than any other country except Germany."

He said since he issued the guidelines this week to open up the country, Texas, Vermont and Montana have announced they will begin lifting stay-home rules next week.

The $350 billion PPP program is a success, the president said, although the Paycheck Protection Program is out of money and Congress needs to approve more funding.

Trump said the United States has a "tremendous capacity to test" and "4 million tests have been done" nationwide. "In New York the per capita testing is 67 percent higher than in Singapore," he said.

"We need to get Americans who are at less risk back to work," the president said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch President Trump's Saturday press briefing:

Former LIRR exec Raymond Kenny dies of COVID-19

Former acting LIRR president Raymond Kenny, a Lindenhurst resident whose childhood fascination with trains led to a railroading career that spanned a half-century, died Saturday from complications of COVID-19, his family said.

Kenny's family said he was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center about a week ago with symptoms of the coronavirus, and later tested positive and was put on a ventilator.

Kenny, who most recently headed rail operations for New Jersey Transit, was 68. — ALFONSO A. CASTILLO

Bellone: Two key COVID-19 numbers slightly lower in Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Saturday said that two key numbers in the coronavirus fight — hospitalizations and ICU patients — were lower for the third straight day.

There were 1,538 patients hospitalized in the county with COVID-19, a decrease of 24, Bellone said in his daily briefing on the county's response to the pandemic. There were three fewer ICU patients, putting the total at 518.

The number of patients intubated was also lower, though he did not say by how many.

Bellone also said that 123 COVID-19 patients had been discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours. "That is great news," he said.

For the second day in a row, Bellone said, the state had not provided an update on the number of patients in the county who have died from the virus. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's Saturday update:

State AG James: Stimulus payments will be off limits to debt collectors

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Saturday blocked debt collectors from accessing billions of dollars in emergency stimulus payments.

James issued official guidance to New York State banking institutions, creditors, and debt collectors, making clear that financial relief provided through stimulus payments are exempt from garnishment under New York law.

"Today, we are taking concrete action to ensure debt collectors keep their hands off New Yorkers' stimulus payments," James said in a statement. "This official guidance makes clear that banks and debt collectors cannot freeze or seize stimulus funds that are on their way to New York families, and any institution that violates this guidance will face swift legal action from my office."

The CARES Act authorized the Treasury Department to issue emergency stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for eligible adults and up to $500 for eligible children to help offset the costs of essentials, like housing, groceries, car payments, and other necessary expenses. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Hospitalizations down in Nassau

As of Friday night, COVID-19 hospitalizations were down in Nassau for the third day in a row, County Executive Laura Curran said Saturday.

Hospitalizations were down by 135 from the day before, an 11% decrease over the last three days, Curran said.

As of Friday night, the county had 1,109 deaths from the virus, she said.

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's Saturday update:

Cuomo: More testing is key to reopening the economy
Much of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s briefing Saturday was focused on COVID-19 testing, and ramping it up, which he said is critical to reopening the economy.
He said the state has called the top 50 producing labs in New York and asked what it would take to double capacity at each of them.
But he cited complications in trying to coordinate the roles of national manufacturers and local labs, and called for help from the federal government in securing components needed for testing.
While discussing a restart of the economy, Cuomo mentioned the possibility of different reopening strategies for different parts of the state. However, he said, “We’re not at a point where we’re going to be reopening anything immediately.” – NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Saturday update:

Cuomo: 540 new coronavirus deaths in NY
At his daily briefing Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reported 540 new coronavirus deaths statewide in the past day, down from 630 the previous day.
The numbers of those hospitalized, the net change in ICU admissions, and intubations are also down statewide, the governor said – but the state is still seeing about 2,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day.
Regarding fatalities, Cuomo said, “Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this.” -- NEWSDAY STAFF

'Pretty significant drops each day’ in COVID-19 patients at Northwell hospitals
Northwell Health on Saturday said the number of COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals has fallen to 2,629.
The health system had about 3,300 COVID-19 patients at this time a week ago. 
“We are seeing pretty significant drops each day,” said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman. “We fell by more than 100 in the last day.”
Northwell had been reporting more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients every day between April 2 and Wednesday. 
Another bit of good news: LIJ-Valley Stream is the only one of their 11 Long Island hospitals to have an ICU occupancy rate above 90%. 
The systemwide ICU occupancy rate fell to 80%. It had been up in the 90% range about a week ago. 
About 62% of the health system's ventilators are in use. Northwell has about 1,100 ventilators, which include converted bi-level airway pressure (BiPAP) machines. 
About 72% of Northwell ventilators had been in use earlier in the week. – DAVID REICH-HALE

Friday evening updates

Watch President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force's press briefing:

Stimulus funds and relief for farmers

At Friday’s coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump said 80 million direct deposits of stimulus funds have been given to Americans. He also announced a $19 billion relief program for farmers and ranchers who have been hurt by the nation’s closure. This includes a $3 billion USDA program to purchase produce and milk that will be distributed to needy Americans.

The president noted that the United States has “the most robust testing in the world” with hundreds of thousands of tests having been done nationwide.

“The surge seems to be over,” Trump said, with sufficient testing having been done nationwide so we can “begin reopening the country.”

He also said the Food and Drug Administration had approved two new antibody tests, bringing the total to four, so scientists can determine how many people have recovered from COVID-19. America is seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.” — NEWSDAY STAFF

This year's Bethpage Air Show canceled

The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh planned for Memorial Day weekend has been canceled due to the pandemic, show officials said.

This year’s show, starring the U. S. Navy Blue Angels, is just one of a number of air shows being called off — along with countless other events that draw large crowds — because of the risk that it would allow the novel coronavirus to spread widely.

Next year’s show, which will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, still is expected to be held. — JOAN GRALLA

Friday afternoon updates

Governor adds directive to nursing homes, assisted-living centers

ALBANY – Following criticism about the state withholding information, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday ordered nursing homes and assisted-living centers to notify families within 24 hours of any resident in their facilities testing positive or dying from COVID-19.

Late Thursday night, Cuomo added the directive to the list of emergency orders he has enacted since New York began dealing with the pandemic. The new directive does appear to change practices in a notable way.

Previously, state regulations mandated that facilities notify the family of any significant changes in their relative’s health condition. A positive test for COVID-19 obviously would qualify.

Now, the facilities must contact the relatives of every resident at a center – not just the family of the one who tests positive – if the virus appears in the nursing home or assisted living home.

Per the order: “Any skilled nursing facility, nursing home, or adult care facility licensed and regulated by the Commissioner of Health shall notify family members or next of kin if any resident tests positive for COVID-19, or if any resident suffers a COVID-19 related death, within 24 hours of such positive test result or death.” – YANCEY ROY

Bellone: COVID-19 hospitalizations drop slightly in Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Friday said hospitalizations in the county because of the coronavirus dropped slightly in the past 24 hours by 23 patients, to 1,562 from 1,585.

There were 16 fewer patients in intensive care units, and intubations were also down by 14 patients, to 445.

Bellone also said 122 people who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 were released from the hospital in the past day.

He did not update the number of fatalities, saying that information wasn’t available from the state.

Bellone said the coming week will tell if such statistics are at a plateau or on a downward trajectory.

“We’re hopeful that we’re going to see the trajectory of the numbers going down,” he said. -- NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing:

Curran: COVID-19 hospitalizations decline in Nassau

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Friday announced the second straight day of COVID-19 hospitalizations declining in the county. Nassau saw 80 fewer hospitalizations Thursday, totaling 2,339.

The county’s new hospitalizations have decreased by 5.5% for the last two days, Curran said.

“The number of discharges continue to far outpace new patients,” Curran said.

The 489 patients on ventilators also declined by 16, Curran said.

There were no new state numbers on the number of Nassau County deaths.

She also said more police and correctional officers were cleared and returned to work than were in quarantine, with five staff members at the jail still in quarantine.

“All of this good news makes us think, when do we reopen? How do we get back to normal?” Curran said. “I was delighted to hear Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo talk about coordinating with other states to open arenas and practice social distancing.” -- JOHN ASBURY

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

Railroad officials plead for federal aid

LIRR president Phillip Eng joined Anthony Simon, head of the railroad’s largest union, and LIRR Commuter Council chairman Mark Epstein at the railroad’s Mineola station to voice their support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s request for $3.9 billion in additional federal aid.

“This isn’t a matter of want . . . We need this funding to come through,” said Simon, general chairman of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

The MTA has lost 68 workers to COVID-19, and more than 2,000 others have tested positive for the virus, including about 200 at the LIRR. Epstein said the railroad’s riders stand by its workforce.

“They stood their post during this war,” Epstein said. “We thank them. We appreciate them.”

At the news conference, Eng also reminded riders that, as of 8 p.m. Friday, they will be required to wear masks or other face coverings while riding LIRR trains, as per Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order.

“This is another step that we can all take to ensure that we continue to flatten the curve and stop the spread,” Eng said. –ALFONSO CASTILLO

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Cuomo issuing testing order
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday that he is issuing an executive order directing all public and private laboratories in the state to coordinate with the state Department of Health, "to ensure prioritizing of diagnostic testing for public health and restarting the economy."
Cuomo said 630 more COVID-19 deaths were reported overnight, a number that is “still breathtaking in its grief and pain and tragedy.” But he said the net change in total hospitalizations is on the decline, as are intensive care admissions and intubations.
Cuomo said that now the challenge is testing for the virus. Currently, he said, the state does not have a testing system that can handle the volume necessary. He also noted that the test is complicated.
“It’s not as simple as drawing blood,” Cuomo said.
There are about 300 laboratories and hospitals in the state that do virology testing. Cuomo said they need to be made into one system statewide.
“This is something that has never been done before and is going to be a tremendous undertaking,” Cuomo said. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Friday morning updates

De Blasio on national reopening plan
When asked about President Donald Trump's plan, announced yesterday, for governors to reopen the economy, the New York City mayor said "we're obviously different from many other places."  "Other places may feel they can forge ahead and they better be right if they do that," de Blasio said. "They better make sure they know what they're doing and they're doing it right and they better be watching their indicators carefully. We're going to make sure we prove that we're getting out of the woods before we take some of those steps." -- MATT CHAYES

Northwell says its numbers continue to drop
Northwell Health on Friday said the number of COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals has fallen to 2,757. "We are falling by more than 100 per day, so it's very good news," said Terry Lynam, a spokesman at the health system.
Northwell had been reporting more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients daily between April 2 and Wednesday. The busiest hospitals remain Northwell's largest: North Shore University Hospital has 533 patients, while Long Island Jewish Medical Center has 476. 
"But both of those were in the high 600 range not too long ago," Lynam said.
About 70% of the health system's ventilators are in use. Northwell has about 1,100 ventilators, which include converted bi-level airway pressure (BiPAP) machines. 
"About 24 percent of our COVID patients are on vents, but at some hospitals it’s higher," Lynam said. 
For example, more than 30% of COVID-19 patients at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson and Southside Hospital in Bay Shore are on ventilators. 
"But those hospitals have also seen a drop in the total number of patients," he said. – DAVID REICH-HALE

De Blasio: We're adding new test sites in NYC
Mayor de Blasio says new testing sites will be added, particularly for the city’s poorest and hardest hit neighborhoods, with plans for thousands more tests per week and more to come. “Testing everywhere, all the time — that’s what we have to get.” – MATT CHAYES

De Blasio: Decision on parades coming soon
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would decide soon whether to allow June parades -- which include some of the biggest of the year, such as the Celebrate Israel parade on June 7, the National Puerto Rican Day parade on June 14 and the NYC Pride March on June 28.
"We got a lot we've got to get done to be safe for June -- we're far from out of the woods," the mayor said. "We're talking to the people who organize those big June events. This is an important decision to make, whether it really makes sense to have those giant gatherings, and some of them are huge."
On Thursday, de Blasio's spokeswoman said a decision on June events would be made by the end of the week. -- MATT CHAYES

NYC mayor: Donation coming for immigrant relief fund
Mayor de Blasio said a donation is coming from the Open Society Foundation for $35 million, including $20 million for an immigrant Emergency Relief Fund. "That is to help immigrants who are bearing the brunt of this crisis in so many ways. And that includes those immigrants who will not be getting any of that federal relief," the mayor said. "And we have to be clear -- they're our neighbors, they're our fellow New Yorkers, they're part of our communities. But they are not being included in a lot of those important relief programs . . . . But there's a lot of people who are working people that happen to be undocumented who have been left out." -- MATT CHAYES

Thursday evening updates

Watch President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force's press briefing;

Trump releases guidelines to start gradual national reopening

President Donald Trump Thursday afternoon laid out COVID-19 guidelines in a phased-in effort aimed at relaxing social distancing and getting Americans back to work.

The guidelines were announced by Trump at his daily White House briefing and make it clear that the governors and other elected officials in all 50 states will take the lead in enforcing them. Trump told governors that they could begin reopening by May 1 or earlier if they wanted and were in step with guidelines.

“To preserve the health of our citizens we must also preserve our economy. We want to deliver food and medical supplies,” Trump said.  We must have a working economy. And that’s what’s going to happen.”

Titled, “Opening Up America Again,” a cue from Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” the guidelines require that each state meet listed criteria before moving forward with three phases designed to gradually reopen the country. The criteria includes requirements that all states must see a downward trajectory of “influenza-like” illness symptoms within a 14-day period, a downward trajectory of “documented cases” within a 14-day period and the ability to test at-risk hospital workers for the coronavirus and antibodies.

After meeting the criteria, states will follow three phases outlined in the guidelines. Among the recommendations in phase one, “vulnerable individuals” should remain sheltered in place and those who live with them should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

The guidelines say people can return to work but their employer must have strict social distancing protocol in place and encourage telework when possible. Schools and other youth facilities should remain closed. Large venues, theaters, sporting venues, houses of worship, can operate under strict social distancing protocol.

Elective surgeries can resume, as can non-essential travel, assuming the criteria are met. Gyms can open with social distancing protocols in place but bars should remain closed.

Among the recommendations for states that meet the criteria for phase two, non-essential travel can resume, schools and organized youth activities can reopen and bars may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy, where appropriate. Large venues, theaters, sporting venues, houses of worship, can operate under moderate social distancing protocol.

Among the recommendations for states that meet the criteria for phase three, "vulnerable individuals" can resume public interactions, but practice safe social distancing, employers can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites and visits to senior care facilities and hospitals can resume. Gyms can remain open if they adhere to standard sanitation protocols and bars may operate with increased standing room occupancy, where applicable. Large venues, theaters, sporting venues, houses of worship, can operate under limited social distancing protocol. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's town hall:

Call for New York rent strike beginning May 1

Progressive housing advocates and tenants Thursday called for a massive rent strike across the state, beginning May 1, to address the growing number of New Yorkers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“The suffering is real and it’s only going to get worse,” said Winsome Pendergrass, a Brooklyn resident with New York Communities for Change, which is calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to cancel rent for tenants through at least June.

Earlier this week, state and city lawmakers, along with groups such as the Association for a Better Long Island, the Long Island Builders Institute and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, wrote to the state’s congressional delegation asking for $10 billion in rental assistance.

Arbor Realty Trust, a Uniondale-based real estate investment trust, announced it launched a $2 million rental assistance program to bridge the gap for tenants unable to pay rent because of job loss. The program will be offered to tenants at properties Arbor finances across the country on a first-come, first-served basis.

“For those who have unfortunately lost income and are temporarily unable to meet their rent obligations, we are looking to provide some much-needed relief until they are able to stabilize their situations,” said Ivan Kaufman, president and chief executive of Arbor Realty Trust. — ROBERT BRODSKY

Thursday afternoon updates

Nassau reports good news on discharging COVID-19 patients.

In Nassau, County Executive Laura Curran said there continue to be more discharges of COVID-19 patients than new arrivals, and “we’ve had the biggest spread yet, last night.”

There were 2,419 patients in 11 hospitals, a decrease of 58 from the day before.

And there were 235 discharges on Wednesday.

“That is a very large spread and we’re very happy to hear that,” Curran said. She said there are 505 COVID patients on ventilators, two more than the day before.

“We stayed home, we did the right thing and we flattened the curve,” she said.

"The numbers aren't as bad as were predicted just three weeks ago.”

Still, the coronavirus continued to exact a heavy toll on the county. Besides the latest deaths, it reported 1,057 new cases of COVID-19, for a total 27,772, according to state figures. released Thursday. Suffolk reported 904 new cases for a total of 24,182. — SCOTT EIDLER

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing:

Bellone sees ‘a leveling off’ in Suffolk County

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Thursday that there were 960 new cases of coronavirus reported in the county, bringing the total cases to almost 24,500.

Hospitalizations due to the virus were down slightly,  a decrease of 45, to 1,585 from 1,630, and the number of ICU beds in use decreased by 25, to 537 from 562.

“That is very good news,” Bellone said, describing “a leveling off at this very high level.”

A total of 152 people who had the virus were discharged from hospitals in the county in the last 24 hours, Bellone said. He also said intubations were down, without providing a number. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Sands Point officer has died of coronavirus, police chief says

Sands Point police announced the death Thursday of Sgt. Joseph Spinosa, with Chief Tom Ruehle saying the 19-year veteran officer had died of COVID-19.

Spinosa was hired in September 2000 and received the Nassau County Municipal Police Chiefs Officer of the Year award in 2008, as well as being recipient of the 2015 Life Saving Award.

He was promoted to sergeant on Dec. 4, 2018, and Ruehle said the department is defining the passing, which occurred Wednesday, as a line-of-duty death, noting: "He will be forever missed and loved." – JOHN VALENTI

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Cuomo: NYS “pause” extended to May 15
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo extended the closing of non-essential business and large gatherings to May 15 on Thursday.
“New York Pause has worked. We have to continue doing what we are doing. The New York Pause policy will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15. I don’t want to project beyond that.”
New York continued to make progress in pushing back against the coronavirus spread, with another day of hospitalizations trending down, intensive care unit admissions decreasing and fewer people needing to be intubated due to severe illness, Cuomo said.
The number of people hospitalized across the state for illness related to the COVID-19 virus fell below 18,000 Wednesday for the first time in about a week, according to the latest state figures, continuing to draw a curve that stabilized and then bent downward in tracking of the virus' impact on health systems.- NEWSDAY STAFF

Poll: Upstate CEOs say recovery will be longer than 6 months
ALBANY – A poll of upstate CEOs found 58% said they expect it will take longer than six months for the economy to return the way it was before the COVID-19 virus hit.
The Siena College Research Institute poll released Thursday found 40% of the chief executive officers had laid off workers and 58% cut back on buying equipment, all of which places a substantial drag on the economic recovery.
Five percent of CEOs said their companies haven’t suffered because of the shutdown by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of non-essential businesses and a state-home order for most New Yorkers.
The poll sponsored by the state Business Council surveyed 307 business leaders April 3 through Tuesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 points. -- MICHAEL GORMLEY

De Blasio: City pools won’t open this summer
New York City will not open municipal pools this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.
De Blasio also said that city beaches are unlikely to open this summer as usual -- with lifeguards, crowded with tens of thousands of beachgoers and swimmers.
It's possible the beaches would be opened with social-distance rules, but: "The notion of having lifeguards and people coming to the beach like normal -- we don't have that in our sights yet. ... Right now, I'd just say, lower expectations." -- MATTHEW CHAYES

United Way raises more than $900,000 to help needy
The United Way of Long Island’s emergency assistance fund for low-wage workers affected by COVID-19 has raised more than $900,000 and helped more than 2,000 people, the nonprofit organization said Thursday. The “United Together: A Response Fund for COVID-19” was boosted with contributions of $250,000 each from Bank of America and the New York Jets, officials said.
The fund has provided financial assistance, in the form of gift cards, for food and household essentials. – OLIVIA WINSLOW

Northwell reports drop in COVID-19 patients
Northwell Health on Thursday said the number of COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals dropped to 2,893, a drop of about 13% from the same period a week ago. It's also a drop from Wednesday, when there were about 3,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the health system.
But four of Northwell's Long Island hospitals, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, LIJ-Valley Stream, North Shore University Hospital and Glen Cove Hospital, still have an ICU occupancy rate of above 90%.
About 70% of the health system's ventilators are in use. Northwell has about 1,100 ventilators, which include converted bi-level airway pressure (BiPAP) machines. – DAVID REICH-HALE

De Blasio decreases city’s proposed budget
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has decreased the city’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year to $89.3 billion from $95.3 billion, citing a projected $7.4 billion tax decline from coronavirus crisis.
This is the first time since de Blasio became mayor in 2014 that he hasn't proposed a higher budget than the year before. – MATTHEW CHAYES

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