Newsday is providing all readers with access to this breaking news blog on important developments about the coronavirus and our community.
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Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing
Cuomo urges symptomatic New Yorkers to get a COVID-19 test
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo went on the offensive Sunday, urging all New Yorkers feeling COVID-19 symptoms get tested for the virus.
At his daily coronavirus update Sunday, the governor said that positive COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to drop. Cuomo said 374 people statewide have tested positive for the coronavirus and 139 have died since Saturday.
He said testing capacity across New York State is at 40,000 per day. Drive-thru sites can do 15,000 tests daily but currently are only doing 5,000, Cuomo said.
“We have more sites and testing capacity than we are using,” Cuomo said. “That is the next hurdle” --NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Gov. Cuomo's press briefing
De Blasio announces testing partnership with CityMD Urgent Care
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday outlined a ramped-up program to provide more coronavirus testing through a partnership with the CityMD Urgent Care.
At his daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, de Blasio said CityMD will provide testing at 123 of its facilities in the five boroughs.
He said the partnership will allow for 6,000 tests per day at the walk-in sites, the mayor said, adding that the tests are free for those without insurance.
The CityMD website lists testing criteria, which includes a fever, cough, body aches and a shortness of breath.
The city had hoped for 20,000 tests per day by May 25 but de Blasio said Sunday: “we have met that goal a week early.”
He also said 500 contact tracers have completed their training with Johns Hopkins University and will begin fanning out across the city the week of May 24 -NEWSDAY STAFF
Bellone: We must find a way to honor our veterans in a safe way
Noting that Saturday is Armed Forces Day, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said we have to figure out a way to honor those who died in the service of the nation by placing flags at their graves. The Department of Veterans Affairs had decided not to allow Memorial Day ceremonies, he said. However, the county had written to the VA secretary to let local authorities decide on how to safely place flags at veterans' graves, and if that is not allowed, at least to allow flags to be placed at nonveterans cemeteries.
"We have more veterans in Suffolk than any other county in New York," he said. "This is not that hard. We are talking about placing flags at the graves of American heroes."
He urged people to also take part in races on Memorial Day weekend, to raise money for veterans.
Asked about some businesses that had opened for business in parts of the county, he said the Suffolk County Police Department had received calls. He said in the last 24 hours, 24 people had died in the county from COVID-19 and 500 had been hospitalized and those numbers were still very high. "I am very much in favor of reopening, but we have to do this in a safe way," he said. — NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's Saturday update:
Curran: Hope to resume elective surgeries ‘as soon as possible’ in Nassau
County Executive Laura Curran said Saturday that she hopes elective surgeries can resume soon in Nassau, after the governor announced that such procedures would be allowed in Suffolk.
Curran said she is communicating regularly with the state and hospital executives, and noted that there are “health risks” to patients not getting necessary procedures.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said earlier Saturday that elective surgeries could resume in Suffolk and Westchester counties.
“We’re working on getting elective surgery in Nassau as well as soon as possible,” Curran said.
Curran also cheered the news from Cuomo that horse racing would be allowed in the state, without fans, starting on June 1.
“That means our beloved Belmont can begin racing again,” Curran said, referring to Belmont Park in Elmont. – NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's Saturday briefing:
Cuomo: Elective surgeries allowed again in Suffolk
Elective surgeries and ambulatory care will be allowed again in Suffolk and Westchester counties, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday.
The governor said horse racing and car racing at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York will also be allowed, but without fans.
Cuomo on Saturday also used his daily coronavirus briefing to urge the Senate to act on a $3 trillion relief bill that was passed by the House on Friday.
New York State is set to receive an estimated $34.4 billion in aid under the measure. The state is facing a $61 billion deficit, Cuomo said.
The state budget funds schools, hospitals and local governments, which in turn, he said, fund police and fire departments - “All the heroes that we talk about.”
Referring to senators reluctant to bail out Democratic states affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo said, “Let’s put politics aside…We are Americans. That’s what comes first.” – NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Governor Cuomo's Saturday update:
Friday afternoon updates
AG James: Police should be handing out masks
Police officers should not be arresting people for failing to practice social distancing, and instead should be in the business of handing out face masks, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said Friday.
Asked at a Newsday webinar about recent incidents of police arresting people for failing to wear masks or other violations, James said she had seen videos of some of the incidents. “I’ve seen the videos and they’re pretty disturbing,” she said.
One showed a woman who was with her child in Brooklyn and was arrested and “taken down” by police for failing to wear a mask, James said.
“I just think that there are better ways to handle it,” she said. “I also think that the police should not really be in the business of enforcing social distancing. I think all of us have a responsibility and a duty. And I do not believe individuals should be arrested for it.”
She added: “As opposed to arresting individuals, what law enforcement should be doing is distributing masks to individuals who unfortunately do not have a mask.”
She said other agencies such as the FDNY and the NYC Sanitation Department should also be involved in the effort.
“I believe the responsibility should be on all of us as well as additional agencies from FDNY to sanitation. All agencies should be in the business of ensuring that individuals are wearing masks.”
James also called for national leadership in the mold of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to lift the country out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“What we need is an FDR moment,” she said. “We need to rebuild the economy. We need to rebuild our infrastructure …What we need is a Brand New Deal,” she said, echoing FDR’s “New Deal.” — BART JONES
Bellone: Two Suffolk County beaches to open Memorial Day
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that Smith Point County Park and Cupsogue Beach County Park beaches will open on Memorial Day with added safety protocols in place because of the pandemic.
“From a practical perspective, we have to be able to provide things for our kids to do and for families to do though the summer,” he said Friday, calling beaches “part of the fabric of life here on Long Island. It’s the reason many of us live here.”
Suffolk's plan requires visitors to wear masks on boardwalks, stairways and restrooms, but not on the beach or in the water.
As for lifeguards, Bellone said there will be one per stand to maintain social distancing, with others on the beach. And, he said, “The lifeguards will do what they need to do to save the person’s life.”
Bellone said that as of Wednesday, there were 21 fewer COVID-19 patients in county hospitals, bringing the total hospitalized to 554. However, he said that 12 more people had died of the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the county’s total to 1,709. And he announced there were 175 new COVID-19 cases, not including the results of recent antibody testing. — NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing:
Curran: 5 of 7 metrics met for region to reopen
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that the Long Island Region – Nassau and Suffolk counties – has met five of the seven metrics needed to begin reopening the economy. The two that haven’t been met: a lower rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations, and a 14-consecutive-day decline in the number of COVID-19 deaths.
Citing the number of patients on ventilators - 197, down 14 from the previous day – and the generally unfavorable outcome for those patients, Curran anticipates the number of deaths to rise and fall, making it a “tricky” metric to achieve. “Because despite our overall downward trends, if we get a one-day increase in the number of deaths, the clock stops; we’ve got to go right back to zero and start all over with our 14 days.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county declined by 35, to 677. Overall, 5.1% of those tested were positive for the coronavirus. And Curran reported 11 new deaths in Nassau County for a total of 2,027. — NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:
Friday morning updates
Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:
Cuomo: NY will allow beaches to reopen for Memorial Day
New York State will allow beaches to reopen for Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at his daily news briefing Friday.
The governor said beaches in New York will be able to reopen at 50% capacity during the holiday weekend and will be allowed to open Friday before the holiday. No group contact activities, like volleyball, will be allowed and social distancing will be enforced. Employees must wear masks and visitors have to wear masks if they can’t social distance, he said.
Cuomo said city, town or county run beaches may open on the same conditions, subject to local government home rule. The local governments must publicly notify the state of their plans by May 20.
If local governments do not enforce the minimum rules, the beaches will be closed, Cuomo said. -- NEWSDAY STAFF
Plainview-Old Bethpage district calling back some employees
The Plainview-Old Bethpage school district – one of the first school systems on Long Island to close after a staffer was confirmed with the coronavirus in early March – will start calling in some employees Monday on a revised schedule to close out the school year and prepare for the fall opening, school officials said.
Superintendent Lorna Lewis said she has asked some clerical staff and administrators, who have been working remotely since early March, to return to the school buildings two days a week.
One clerical worker and one administrator will be in each of the seven school buildings, along with custodians. This does not impact the entire clerical staff, she said, but about 50%.
“We have simply not gotten the work of the district completed, and it is impossible to do everything online,” she said Friday.
Lewis said staffers will maintain social distancing and that the district has spent more than $25,000 on supplies such as gloves and masks for workers and more than $300,000 on cleaning. Lewis said she and other top administrative staff have been reporting to the central administration offices. – JOIE TYRRELL
Tennis, pickleball return to Hempstead
Tennis and pickleball courts in the Town of Hempstead reopened Friday, although with enhanced safety protocols and social distancing guidelines, officials said.
The reopenings, which were based on a state directive, allow exclusively for singles play and prohibits non-players and chairs from the courts. Hempstead has 16 tennis courts and eight pickleball courts.
“Recreation and exercise are so important to promoting health in our communities,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. “But under the circumstances of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we must be mindful and take the necessary protocols as recommended by health officials to ensure the safety of all residents.” – ROBERT BRODSKY
De Blasio: Socially-distanced cooling centers planned; NYPD to stop enforcing face covering rule
Sports venues, auditoriums and other large venues will open across New York City as makeshift cooling centers when the summer weather gets hot enough to be dangerous without access to air conditioning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. Traditional cooling centers will be socially distanced.
The mayor said that occupancy would also be limited at Central Park’s Sheep Meadow.
“It’s getting hotter and about to get into the warm weather in a serious way starting today and this weekend, and that means summer is around the corner and that’s a whole new reality,” de Blasio said at his daily news conference.
De Blasio also said the NYPD would stop taking enforcement action against people who, absent a serious danger to the public, are violating the state order to wear a face covering in public when social distancing isn’t possible. His announcement comes after a series of viral videos showed rough arrests by the NYPD, including one earlier this week that showed officers pushing a woman with a child to the ground of a subway station. – MATTHEW CHAYES