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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates from June 24

Malls, movie theaters and gyms were expected to

Malls, movie theaters and gyms were expected to reopen under Phase 4, but Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday put the brakes on that for now. Local businesses react. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd has the story. Credit: Newsday / Cecilia Dowd; Howard Schnapp; File footage

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

What's happening:

Wednesday afternoon updates

Bellone: Phase Three means indoor dining, personal care, but within guidelines

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone  started the first day of Phase Three of reopening by giving his COVID-19 briefing at a Northport eatery.

Speaking by video from the Whale’s Tale restaurant, Bellone said indoor dining is now permitted as well as personal care services.

However, social distancing, 50% fewer customers and regular testing of employees are some of the rules that must be followed under the state’s reopening guidelines.

Bellone also said he has formed a coalition of restaurant owners in both Nassau and Suffolk who will help eateries reopen under the new guidelines.

Another 45 people tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours out of about 4,000 tested, he said, or about a 1% infection rate.

That brings the total of county residents testing positive to 41,101 with another 18,327 showing antibodies for the virus.

There are now 88 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and one person was discharged.

Two people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing Suffolk’s death toll to 1,972. —NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s press briefing:

Curran: 85% decrease in COVID hospitalizations in past 4 weeks

As Phase 3 began on Long Island Wednesday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said that since Phase 1 began four weeks ago, the county has seen an 85% decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and a 50% decrease in new coronavirus cases.

“Again, we can reopen, and we can reopen safely,” Curran said. “… We’re actually doing it.”

Curran said there were 41 new positive cases of the virus in the county, about 1% of those recently tested for it.

“We continue to do very well when it comes to our COVID numbers,” she said.

Nassau’s hospitals have five COVID-19 patients on ventilators, a daily decrease of three, Curran said.

At the peak of the crisis, she said, Nassau’s hospitals had 500 COVID-19 patients on ventilators. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s press briefing:

Curran: County fields open July 6 for baseball, softball, soccer

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the county’s baseball and softball fields will be open for play on July 6, as will about a dozen multipurpose grass fields for soccer leagues. Curran also said that under Phase 3, which on Long Island began Wednesday, the county will begin accepting applications for picnic permits for up to 25 people. They are available at the parks administration building at any county park, she said at her daily coronavirus briefing.Curran said “one thing that I am disappointed about” is that indoor shopping malls are no longer included under Phase 4 reopenings. She noted that she had been advocating that the malls be allowed to reopen under Phase 2 with other retail."Our mall operators have very detailed protocols about how they come back. And I’ve seen them, and I am very reassured that we can do it safely,” Curran said. “It’s thousands upon thousands of jobs,” she said of the malls. “They are serious revenue generators for your local government.” – NEWSDAY STAFF

Cuomo: 5 regions to enter Phase 4 on Friday 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said five regions will enter Phase 4 on Friday. 

Under Phase 4, indoor religious gatherings will be increased from 25% to 33 %. And the number of people in social gatherings can increase from 25 to 50, Cuomo said.

Long Island entered Phase 3 on Wednesday and is scheduled to go to Phase 4 in about two weeks.

The state will continue to study malls, gyms and theaters before making a decision on when they can reopen, Cuomo said. 

The governor also said he is looking at hotspots in New York City’s boroughs, saying he doesn’t want a reversal in the numbers. 

Cuomo said the number of statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations Tuesday was at 171, the “lowest level” since the pandemic started. – NEWSDAY STAFF

NY, 2 other states set quarantine standards

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the quarantine will be based on the states’ rate of infection, with 10 positives per 100,000 people, or 10 % of total positives, on a seven-day rolling average.

Among the states whose residents would be quarantined now are Florida, Alabama, Arizona, the Carolinas, Washington and Texas.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey stood together in beating back the virus, Cuomo said.

“It’s really smart, common-sense step, particularly as the three states have broken the back of this virus,” Murphy said.

“The Northeast region has taken this seriously,” which has helped the rate of those infected to drop, Lamont said.

“Hopefully we’re on the other side and we stay on the other side,” Cuomo said. -- NEWSDAY STAFF

Cuomo: NY, NJ, Conn. issue travel advisory

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that he and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut are jointly issuing a travel advisory for people coming in from states that have a high coronavirus infection rate: They must quarantine for 14 days.

Although Cuomo on Wednesday said New York is “on the other side of the [coronavirus] mountain,” he joined governors Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont from Connecticut in announcing the advisory, which goes into effect at midnight tonight. 

The advisory states that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of the coronavirus into the three states must quarantine for 14 days. 

Any state that goes over a rate will be subject to quarantine, Cuomo said.“We don’t want to see it go up….and it could literally bring infection with them,” he said. --- NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

De Blasio: NYC beaches to open for swimming next week

Swimming at New York City's beaches will be permitted starting July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday, reversing a coronavirus-prevention policy that led municipalities on Long Island to limit their beaches to locals.

The change covers the city's 14 miles of beaches, which will open in time for the July Fourth holiday, according to the mayor's press secretary, Freddi Goldstein.

While sunbathing and hanging out on the sand have been allowed despite the restrictions, swimming hasn't been and lifeguards haven't been working the beaches - an effort, the mayor has said, to prevent large crowds that would crowd mass transit.

Last month, both Nassau and Suffolk counties, along with several other municipalities on Long Island — Hempstead, Brookhaven, Long Beach — moved to restrict beaches to residents, fearing a surge of New York City residents heading east because their own beaches were closed to swimming. State-run Jones Beach in Nassau and Robert Moses State Park imposed no such residency restrictions. – MATTHEW CHAYES

Northwell: 13% fewer COVID-19 patients than a week ago

Northwell Health on Wednesday said it had 313 COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals it owns and operates, down 13% from the same period a week ago.

Within the Northwell system, Long Island Jewish Medical Center has the most COVID-19 patients, with 58, followed by North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset at 52, and Glen Cove Hospital at 39.

Northwell said it had nine admissions over the last 24 hours. - DAVID REICH-HALE