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Coronavirus on Long Island: Latest updates April 20

Registered nurse Nicole Brown tests a patient for

Registered nurse Nicole Brown tests a patient for coronavirus in the parking lot of the Brentwood Recreation Center on Monday. 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 happened:

  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed "hazard pay" for front-line workers, saying they should get a federally funded 50% bonus.
  • New York launched what the governor called the "largest antibody test ever done," to help officials decide how quickly people can return to work.
  • Nassau County has 30,677 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while Suffolk has 27,662. Nassau has lost 1,329 residents to coronavirus, and 859 Suffolk residents have died, state figures show.
  • Radio host Ana Maria Caraballo has become a lifeline for Long Island Latinos during the pandemic.
  • New York City's mayor said it will spend $3.5 billion by the end of the year battling the pandemic, and asked the federal government to "Give us the financial support to make us whole."
  • If you had coronavirus, here's what you can expect with bills.

Monday evening updates

Watch President Trump's briefing:

Bellone launching group to develop guidelines on reopening municipal facilities

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that in addition to joining the governor's new Reimagine New York Task Force, he is launching a Summer Planning Working Group with local officials to develop guidelines on reopening municipal facilities, including beaches.

The group will be chaired by Deputy County Executive Peter Scully, who oversees parks, and will include town supervisors, village mayors, Fire Island representatives and county representatives. Recommendations of that group will be passed along to the governor's task force.

Bellone said the task force will be especially important as the weather changes and people want to go to the beach or throw a backyard party.

"We know it's challenging," Bellone said. "We know it'll get more difficult as the summer approaches and there is a strong desire to get back to a sense of normalcy." — RACHELLE BLIDNER

Monday afternoon updates

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's briefing:

Curran: Numbers 'looking better' in Nassau

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran reported hopeful signs at her press briefing on Monday, saying overall hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients declined for the fifth day in a row.

The number dropped by 161 from the previous day, to 2,043. "Overall hospitalizations have declined 18 percent since the high-water mark 6 days ago," Curran said.

"It tells us we're in a good place," Curran said of declines in hospitalizations and ventilator use. "We're not done, but we're in a good place."

"The numbers are looking better, but we are far from out of the woods," she said. "We're not letting up. We are doing a full court press." — RACHELLE BLIDNER

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

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Cuomo: COVID-19 deaths down in NYS for 6th straight day

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at his news conference Monday said 478 New Yorkers died from the coronavirus Sunday, bringing the state total number of deaths to 14,347.The governor said that is the sixth straight day the number of deaths due to the virus was down, as well as the number of hospitalized virus patients, which also was lower for the sixth straight day, to 16,428 from a peak of nearly 19,000.

Cuomo also renewed a bipartisan call for $500 billion in aid to states. Saying the federal CARES Act contained zero funding to offset state revenue shortfalls, Cuomo said cuts will be coming as a result. Cuomo said cuts are predicted to include 20% for schools, 20% for local governments and 20% for hospitals.

Additionally, Cuomo said frontline workers should get "a 50% bonus and give it to them now." "Thanks is nice but recognition of their efforts is also appropriate," the governor said. "They are the ones carrying us through this crisis and the crisis is not over." — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Monday morning updates

MTA: More than 5,000 have returned to work

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday that, for the first time since the outbreak, its number of employees who have returned to work after being quarantined is higher than those still out on quarantine. Throughout the MTA, 5,033 employees have returned to work after either testing positive for the virus or having potentially been exposed to it. That’s out of more than 9,000 employees who have been quarantined at one point.

At the Long Island Rail Road, 691 have returned to work, while 395 remain in quarantine.

“We are relieved and grateful to see so many of our colleagues returning to good health,” MTA chief safety officer Patrick Warren said. “They are the definition of public servants helping all New Yorkers.”

Transit workers have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with more than 2,000 MTA employees testing positive and 68 dying from COVID-19. MTA officials have said the high rate of exposure and infection has resulted in employee shortages, making it difficult to operate trains and buses.

The number of subway trips that had to be canceled because of employee availability fell to 13% last week, from a high of about 40%, the MTA said. — ALFONSO CASTILLO

Northwell offering $2,500 to front-line staff

Northwell Health on Monday said it has 2,626 COVID-19 patients at its 19 owned and operated hospitals, which include 11 on Long Island. That's essentially unchanged day-over-day, but down about 25% since the peak earlier in the month. Northwell also said only one hospital, LIJ-Valley Stream, has an ICU occupancy rate above 90%.

Separately, Northwell said it is awarding $2,500 payments and a week of paid time off to front-line staff. The time off can be used at any time during their employment with Northwell, the largest private employer in the state with 72,000 employees.

Nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and other patient caregivers are eligible for the bonus. Northwell said about 45,000 staffers are eligible for the payment and time off.

"Our dedicated staff's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of heroic," Michael J. Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO, said in a statement. — DAVID REICH-HALE

Permits canceled for June parades

All parade permits for June, including for events celebrating Israel, Puerto Rico and the LGBTQ community, were canceled Monday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in another effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Millions attend these three events every year. Celebrate Israel was scheduled for June 7, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade for June 14 and the NYC Pride March for June 28.

On Thursday, the mayor’s office announced that all city-permitted events in May had been canceled.

"This probably will not surprise you, but I'm now reporting today that we will cancel city permits for June events as well," he said on Monday. "It's not a happy announcement, but it's one we have to make."

De Blasio said Monday that the events could happen later this year. — MATTHEW CHAYES

New cases seem to be flatlining but 'still not out of the woods'

Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said while New Yorkers have done an amazing job of self-isolating and practicing social distancing, we can't let that lull us into a sense of complacency when it comes to the battle against COVID-19.

"It's amazing that New Yorkers have done what they’ve done," de Blasio said, adding that with the city being one of the "most-densely populated places in the country, this is the last place in the country you’d think it [social distancing and self-isolation] would work."

The fact that the numbers of new cases here appear to be flatlining, the mayor said: "We're still losing way too many people each day, still have too many people in the ICUs, we’re still not out of the woods." — JOHN VALENTI

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.


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