Charles Parker, of Riverhead, an environmental services employee with Peconic Bay...

Charles Parker, of Riverhead, an environmental services employee with Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and formally with the 106 Resue Wing in Westhampton Beach, recovered from COVID-19 and receives a send-off after being discharged from Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead on Thursday. Credit: Randee Daddona

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

What's happening today:

  • Nassau County has 32,124 confirmed coronavirus cases and Suffolk has 29,567. Nassau has lost 1,471 residents to coronavirus, while 959 Suffolk residents have died, state figures show.
  • See the number of coronavirus cases in your community.
  • The coronavirus has united LIers in grief. Tell us about loved ones you've lost. 
  • Learn more about the "disease detectives" needed to help contain the spread of coronavirus. 

Thursday evening updates

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

Trump: Studies show heat, humidity kill virus

The nation is seeing a rapid decline in new cases of COVID-19, President Donald Trump said at Thursday’s coronavirus briefing. Still, Americans must “maintain vigilance” by staying at home, keeping social distance and with the “voluntary use of face coverings.”

He also said Homeland Security scientists have found that the virus “survives less well in warmer, humid environments” than it does in cold and dry weather, suggesting the coronavirus may be less of a problem in the summer.

Trump also said Harvard, Princeton and Stanford did the right thing by returning funds the universities had received from the $350 million Paycheck Protection Program.

He said he had used the Defense Production Act to provide critically needed personal protective equipment to hospitals, including masks.

States are moving to open up their economies, Trump said. “There’s a pent up demand to get the country back to where it was.” — NEWSDAY STAFF

Thursday afternoon updates

SAT exam set for Sept. 26

The SAT exam has been rescheduled for Sept. 26, College Board officials said Thursday, as the nonprofit seeks to expand access after the spring exams were canceled because of the coronavirus.

Registration for the 2020-21 SAT will open in May. High school students who registered for June and those in the high school class of 2021 who do not have SAT scores will have early access to register for the August, September and October exams, the College Board said. — JOIE TYRRELL

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing:

Bellone said PPE distributed to LI nursing home workers

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said there were 709 more people who tested positive for the virus since Wednesday and 33 more people died, bringing that total to 959.

But hospitalizations are down 37 to 1,340 and 131 people were discharged.

He said 1,477 tests were administered at hotspot sites; 577 of 1,077 received back are positive.

That’s a 53% infection rate for that pool, he said.

Bellone also said the county was able to distribute about 24,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to workers in Long Island nursing homes Wednesday.

He said the county also received about 80,000 ear loop masks from New York State and 27,000 isolation gowns, which are still in short supply.

Bellone again reiterated that the police department is on alert for those who might take advantage of the pandemic, saying they are “sending a message to anyone out there thinking of committing a crime.”

He said the numbers of people going into the hospital for the coronavirus continues to decline. — RACHELLE BLIDNER

Nassau expands food distribution for those in need

Nassau County has coordinated with Island Harvest to expand food distribution for families in need during the pandemic, County Executive Laura Curran said.

A rotation has been set up among nine sites in the county on different days, serving a total of 14 communities, Curran said.

In Hempstead, more than 1,000 families are getting food that they need, she said: A small bag of nonperishables; a bag of fruit, vegetables and yogurt; and a bag containing meat, all of which would be enough for a family for a week.

“Food insecurity has become a serious challenge during this public health crisis,” she said at her briefing Thursday.

Curran also said the county has partnered with Meals on Wheels and Catholic Charities to feed more seniors at home. For more information about that initiative, call 516-227-8900.

And, the county's VetMart food pantry has been modified to provide drive-by food pickups for veterans in need and deliveries for those who can't leave home. For more information on the veterans program, call 516-572-6565. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Curran: Hospitalizations down in Nassau, 2 expanded testing sites open

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Thursday that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the county fell for the eighth consecutive day, to 1,879. That’s a decrease of 87 from the day before.

Curran said there were nine fewer COVID-19 patients in hospital ICUs, or 512 total. However, the number of patients on ventilators increased by 11, to 429 total.

The county recorded 41 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 1,431. A total of 187 patients were discharged from county hospitals.

Curran, in her daily briefing, also touted expanded testing sites that opened Wednesday in Hempstead and Freeport. She said testing there is by appointment only, and that people wishing to get tested had to meet certain criteria: They had to be symptomatic or had close contact with a confirmed positive case.

Curran said people would be tested there regardless of insurance and immigration status. For more information, call 516-396-7500. -NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s live press briefing

Cuomo: Nearly 17% of LIers surveyed had COVID-19

Nearly 17% of Long Islanders tested for COVID-19 antibodies had the virus at some point, according to preliminary data announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday.

Over the course of two days, the state tested 3,000 people for coronavirus antibodies at grocery stores and other box stores in 40 localities in 19 counties. Preliminary data shows that statewide, 13.9% of those surveyed tested positive for antibodies, which indicates they had been infected with the virus, Cuomo said.

The rate of infection was 21.2% in New York City, 11.7% in Westchester and Rockland counties and 3.6% in the rest of the state, Cuomo said.

On Long Island, 16.7% of those tested had the coronavirus antibodies – “significantly worse” than Westchester and Rockland counties, Cuomo said.

The governor said 22.5% of Latinos and 22.1% of African-Americans surveyed tested positive. Asians tested positive at a rate of about 11%; whites at a rate of 9.1%, Cuomo said. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Northwell COVID-19 patients lowest since March 31

Northwell Health on Thursday said it has 2,335 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates. That's the lowest number of coronavirus patients since the afternoon of March 31.
However, a higher percentage of patients still remaining are sicker, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman. About 35% of COVID-19 patients are in an ICU, and that percentage has risen as other patients are released, Lynam said.

Northwell reported an overall ICU occupancy rate of 82%. – DAVID REICH-HALE

De Blasio: ‘Do not relax’
New hospital admissions and the number of intensive care patients are down, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that much still needs to be done in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Don’t give an inch here. Do not relax,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing.
As some states start to reopen their economies, de Blasio worried there could be a resurgence of the virus. New York City is taking a “cautious” approach, he said.
De Blasio reported Thursday 2,519 new COVID-19 cases and 320 deaths.
On Tuesday, there were 227 new admissions to the city’s 11 public hospitals and 796 people in intensive care. That is down from 835 people in ICU on April 11, de Blasio said.
The percentage of people testing positive for the virus is down to 32% citywide. At the public health lab, the percentage is up slightly, to 57%, he said.
“Yes, there’s been real progress…but we’re still very much in this fight,” de Blasio said. – NEWSDAY STAFF

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