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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates for April 24-26

Robert Corrado, owner of PuroClean, of Smithtown, wipes

Robert Corrado, owner of PuroClean, of Smithtown, wipes down frequently touched surfaces on a chief's car from the Stony Brook Fire Department on Friday. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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

Sunday updates

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing

Plans to Reopen Upstate First “Makes Sense,” Bellone says
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Sunday that plans aimed at reopening upstate businesses first amid signs the COVID-19 pandemic is ebbing statewide “makes sense given that upstate has been impacted less than downstate.”
At his daily briefing on the pandemic, Bellone said Suffolk County continues to work as part of a regional reopening task force that includes Nassau and Westchester counties as well as New York City.
Bellone also said county officials “are communicating with businesses here and different industries, and getting feedback from them on what reopening will look like.”
Newsday Staff

Watch Gov. Cuomo’s press briefing

Cuomo Outlines Gradual Reopening Statewide

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo laid out New York’s plan to gradually reopen the state for businesses when the COVID-19 pandemic winds down.

He said the state will follow the guidelines for reopening released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending an incremental approach across three phases.

In the first phase, Cuomo said, construction companies considered at low risk for coronavirus infections will be allowed to resume activities. After two weeks of continued drops in new infections, additional businesses will be permitted to reopen depending on potential risk.

The state will take two weeks to evaluate and then consider moving to phase 3 of the CDC guidelines, which include broader recommendations for businesses, arenas and stadiums as well as restaurants and bars.

“We need businesses to do that analysis, “ Cuomo said at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. “They have to think how they are going to reopen in this new normal”

Newsday Staff

Northwell Health Sees Drop in New COVID-19 Patients

Northwell Health officials on Sunday said the number of COVID-19 patients has fallen to 2,014 at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates.

The New Hyde Park-based health system has seen a drop of more than 22% over the past six days, officials said.

If the trend continues, Monday would be the first time Northwell Health's s COVID-19 tally for patients fell below 2,000 since March 29, when it had 1,974 coronavirus patients.

Northwell officials said North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, with 383, has the most COVID-19 patients in its health system. At its height, North Shore had about 690 patients.

About 28% of COVID-19 patients at Northwell hospitals are on ventilators.

David Reich-Hale

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De Blasio Announces COVID-19 Recovery Task Force

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced the creation of a task force to build a plan aimed at restarting the city after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
De Blasio described the group as “an amazing collection of New Yorkers bringing their talents together.”

The eight-member group comprises past city administrators and others with deep knowledge of the economic, social and educational challenges ahead, the mayor said, adding that he expects their preliminary report June 1.

The task force members are Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundation; Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor of New York; Jennifer Jones Austin, co-chair of de Blasio’s transition team and the chief executive officer of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Carl Weisbrod, a past senior advisor to the mayor; Henry Garrido, executive director of District Council 37; Maria Torres Springer, vice president of U.S. programs at the Ford Foundation, and Liz Neumark, chief executive officer of Great Performances, a catering and planning firm. Neumark will focus on hunger issues. 

—Newsday Staff

Saturday updates

Bellone: Suffolk deaths top 1,000 mark
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the county had marked a grim milestone as another 49 people died of COVID-19 bringing the Suffolk total to 1,042.
That news came as the number of hospitalized patients was down 143 in the past 24 hours to total 1,175, Bellone said at his daily coronavirus update Saturday afternoon. He noted that the county had seen a daily decline of about of 26 patients in the two weeks since Easter, except for one day. The number of patients in ICU had dropped 25 to 450, he added.
“I hope this positive news continues,” Bellone said.
On testing, he said Suffolk had 891 new positives on Friday, bringing the total to 32,185.
Saturday’s warm weather provided officials with a preview of whether residents would follow safety measures, such as social distancing, while they were out enjoying a “sunny, beautiful day,” Bellone said.
He said he had toured the now completed field hospital at Stony Brook University, a facility he hoped would not be used any time soon. Newsday staff

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's Saturday briefing

Curran: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nassau continue to go down
Total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nassau declined for the eleventh straight day, but 40 more people died of the virus, County Executive Laura Curran said Saturday.
Hospitalizations were down to 1,659 patients as of Friday, a decrease of 119 from the day before. The number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators also dropped, Curran said.
A total of 175 COVID-19 patients were discharged from the 11 hospitals in the county Friday, Curran said.
And, in what Curran called “a little bit of good news,” the percentage of people testing positive for the virus was 24% Friday – down from about 50% a month ago, she said.
Curran also said that the county was partnering with Island Harvest to open food distribution sites to help individuals who are “losing paychecks and just can’t put food on the table for their families.” The county is working on opening nine locations throughout Nassau, Curran said. - NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's Saturday briefing:

Watch Governor Cuomo's Saturday briefing:

Cuomo: COVID-19 testing eligibility, sites expanded
Independent pharmacists will be allowed to conduct COVID-19 tests and eligibility for testing will be expanded to include first responders, health care workers and essential employees, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday.
Among the essential workers eligible are veterinarians, child care providers, delivery workers and food service workers. They will be able to get tested even if they aren't symptomatic, Cuomo said.
“We want to make sure those people get tested,” Cuomo said.
And as capacity increases, tests will be made available to more people, Cuomo said.
“The more capacity, the more tests, the more we’ll open the eligibility criteria,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also said Saturday that testing for coronavirus antibodies would be provided to frontline health care workers at four hospitals and healthcare systems in New York City, as well as transit workers and police. – NEWSDAY STAFF


Officials: COVID-19 death toll rises at Long Island State Veterans Home
The COVID-19 death toll at the Long Island State Veterans Home has risen to 52, the Stony Brook nursing center reported Friday night.
The 350-bed facility has the highest number of reported COVID-19 deaths of any Long Island nursing home.
Six more residents died since a letter was posted on the home’s website Tuesday, and 20 have died since April 17.
Sixty-five residents have tested positive for the virus, up from the 51 positive results noted in Tuesday’s letter. Four of those who tested positive are at Stony Brook University Hospital; the others remain at the home, the letter states. Test results for an additional resident are pending.
Fifty-seven of 126 staff members who have been tested for the virus have tested positive, Friday’s letter states, and 23 have recovered and returned to work. – DAVID OLSON

Friday evening updates

Beach, pool closings at state parks extended through May 31

Beaches and pools at New York State parks will remain closed through May 31 due to the pandemic, instead of opening as they traditionally do shortly before Memorial Day weekend, the parks agency said Friday.

Pools and beaches, including Long Island’s, had been closed along with all nonessential businesses in the state through May 15.

However, the parks themselves have remained open for people wishing to walk or jog or even ride bikes in some places.

The state’s closures echo those undertaken earlier by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said it was impossible to follow social distancing rules when New Yorkers often have to wait in lines and use crowded locker rooms, let alone share pools. — JOAN GRALLA

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

Friday afternoon updates

Bellone: More than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in Suffolk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday that though COVID-19 hospitalizations were down slightly over the past 24 hours, there were 1,000-plus new cases, “higher than we have been seeing in the last week.”

A total of 1,039 county residents tested positive in the past 24 hours, officials said, bringing the total to 31,294 since the crisis began.

On Thursday, Suffolk had reported 713 new cases for the previous 24 hours.

At his briefing Friday, Bellone said that 34 more Suffolk residents have died, bringing the total to 993.

There were 22 fewer COVID-19 patients in Suffolk hospitals, or 1,318 overall, continuing a downward trend. There were 16 fewer ICU patients, for a total of 478. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing

Curran: 10th straight day of declining COVID-19 hospitalizations

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that there have been 10 straight days of declines in the numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients.

There were 1,778 COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Thursday night, “700 less than just 10 days ago,” she said at her briefing Friday.

There were 496 ICU patients, she said.

Yet 40 more people died of COVID-19, she said, putting the county total at 1,471.

In a bit of encouraging news, Curran said that 24% of those tested for the coronavirus on Thursday tested positive. Just one month ago, she said, the rate was 50%.

There have been 32,124 COVID-19 cases in the county since March 5, Curran said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Curran: First LIRR worker dies of coronavirus

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that the first Long Island Rail Road worker has died of COVID-19.

Curran did not identify the worker or say when he died. She said he was a station cleaner for the LIRR, a Long Islander, and was 56 years old.

“This virus is taking a huge toll on our transit workers,” Curran said, noting that more than 80 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers have died of COVID-19 complications.

“To the whole LIRR community, we mourn with you,” Curran said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing

Northwell’s numbers continue to fall

Northwell Health on Friday said it saw the largest single-day drop – 149 – of COVID-19 patients. The health system said it has 2,186 COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates, which include 11 on Long Island.

The patient count is also down about 33% from the height on April 10. However, 36% of the remaining patients are in ICU. A Northwell spokesman said that percentage could continue to climb as healthier COVID-19 patients are discharged. — DAVID REICH-HALE

Cuomo: Decision on school closings next week

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday that he would make a decision next week on whether to keep New York State schools closed for the rest of the academic year.

Schools are currently closed through May 15. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that city schools would remain closed through the end of the academic year.

The governor also said that state revenues will decline by 14%, or $13.3 billion, from the executive budget forecast due to the coronavirus crisis. And, Cuomo said, every New Yorker will get a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot for the June 23 primary.

Cuomo had previously issued an executive order allowing all New Yorkers to vote absentee in the primary.

The governor said that an additional 422 lives were lost to the new coronavirus in New York State on Thursday. COVID-19 hospitalizations were down to 14,200 and intubations had also dropped.

Of the 422 deaths Thursday, 398 were in hospitals and 24 in nursing homes, Cuomo said. The state death toll was at 16,162 as of Thursday. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Friday morning updates

De Blasio: COVID-19 shutdown indicators moving in the ‘correct direction’
For one of the first times since the coronavirus crisis began in March, the three goalpost indicators that New York City is using to determine whether to loosen the shutdown rules are on the decline, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
"Our indicators are now moving all in the correct direction, which is down,” de Blasio said.
New hospital admissions for the coronavirus were down to 176 as of Wednesday, the latest date for which information is available. That is a drop from 227 the day before.
The number of patients in intensive care in the city's 11 public hospitals was down to 786 from 796. The percentage of those who tested positive for the virus citywide was down to 30 percent from 32 percent, and down to 52 percent from 57 percent at the public health lab, de Blasio said.
Sustained declines on those indicators for 10 to 14 days would trigger a loosening of the restrictions, de Blasio has said. – MATTHEW CHAYES

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