A Long Island Rail Road conductor wears a required mask...

A Long Island Rail Road conductor wears a required mask at the Ronkonkoma LIRR station on Tuesday. 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's happening today:

Tuesday evening updates

Watch our daily coronavirus wrap-up:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said hospitals in Nassau can resume doing elective surgery, while Nassau County Executive Laura Curran backs bill to limit Nickerson Beach access to residents. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd has the full story. Credit: Newsday staff; Facebook / Governor Andrew Cuomo, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; File footage

Tuesday afternoon updates

Bellone calls for lifting national flag planting ban, tests himself for virus

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone again urged federal authorities to allow flags to be placed on national cemeteries in Suffolk for Memorial Day weekend, trying to continue a 25-year tradition now banned due to the pandemic.

The county executive also said he was tested Monday for COVID-19 antibodies after exhibiting "mild" symptoms of the virus.

Bellone said the flag planting, which will go forward in non-VA cemeteries, could be done in a safe, socially distant way.

"We don't need a one size fits all policy," said Bellone of the ban. "We can do it within the guidelines … of safety."

Bellone said those planting flags could wear masks and gloves and "easily" stay apart in the 1,100 acres that make up the Calverton national military cemetery.

He said Suffolk is sending the Veterans Administration a proposed plan, approved by local health officials, to do the flag placement at Calverton, and remove them a week later.

Bellone said the beaches will be open to residents, although only until 50% capacity.

On the virus numbers, Bellone said another 103 residents tested positive, a 38,297 total not including antibody tests.

On hospitalizations, Suffolk is at 497 COVID-19 patients, under 500 for the first time in many weeks.

Thirty people were discharged from hospitals and an additional 18 people died from the virus in the last 24-hours, a total of 1,772 deaths so far. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's update:

Watch President Trump and others speak at a Cabinet meeting:

Curran touts rescheduled Belmont Stakes

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran put a positive spin on NYRA's announcement earlier Tuesday that the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes will be held June 20 in Elmont.

Curran noted it's the first time ever that the Belmont will be the first leg of the Triple Crown.

"So we're making history, actually," she said at her briefing Tuesday in Mineola.

The race will be shorter — 1 1/8 miles instead of 1½ miles — and will be held without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Typically, the Belmont is the third leg of the Triple Crown and run in early June. But the three races were postponed this year because of the pandemic.

The Kentucky Derby, usually the Triple Crown's first leg, will be the second this year: It's been rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5.

The Preakness was to have been this past Saturday in Baltimore. It is now scheduled as the last leg, Oct. 3. — NEWSDAY STAFF

COVID-19 hospitalizations decline again in Nassau

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Tuesday said that COVID-19 hospitalizations declined again in Nassau in the past 24 hours, to 602 patients. That's 22 fewer than the previous day.

She said there were eight new COVID-19 admissions into Nassau hospitals, and 87 new coronavirus cases overall.

Curran said nine more county residents had died of the virus, bringing the total to 2,059.

Curran, at her briefing in Mineola, also praised the announcement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that the county is eligible for elective surgeries.

"I sent the governor a letter yesterday making the case that our hospital executives are ready, our health care professionals are ready, and that this is good for public health, and I'm very happy to see that today he OKd it," Curran said.

Cuomo made the announcement earlier Tuesday. On Saturday, he said elective surgeries can begin again in Suffolk County. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo talked about the latest coronavirus numbers at his news conference Tuesday and said Long Island has "made great progress." At one point, the Island was losing about 100 lives to COVID-19 per day, he said, but that number has dropped to about 13 daily. Credit: Facebook / Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Cuomo: Pilot program allows limited visitors to two LI hospitals

Cuomo said the state is looking at a pilot program over the next few days to bring visitors back to the hospitals, including at Northwell with the right precautions and equipment.

As part of the pilot, visits are time limited and visitors are subject to symptom and temperature checks. Northwell hospitals including at Huntington and Plainview are on the pilot list presented on the slide at the briefing. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Curran backs bill to limit Nickerson Beach to county residents

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday she would sign legislation to limit access to Nickerson Beach to county residents for as long as New York City keeps its beaches closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Curran announced she would sign the Republican-sponsored bill as the Hempstead Town Board said it would enforce a residency requirement at town beaches as a temporary public health precaution during the pandemic.

In response to an announcement Monday by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that city beaches would remain closed, Nassau's Republican majority filed a bill to limit access to Nickerson. According to the GOP bill, de Blasio's move "threatens to overwhelm the safe operational capacity of Nickerson Beach." — NEWSDAY STAFF

Cuomo: Nassau eligible for elective surgeries

Elective surgeries and ambulatory care can resume in Nassau County, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced during his daily briefing on Tuesday.

"Anyone who needs health service should get it," he said. "There's no reason not to go to the hospital, no reason not to go to the doctor's office." — NEWSDAY STAFF

Tuesday morning updates

De Blasio calls for line-of-duty benefits for COVID-19 deaths

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday called on the state to authorize line-of-duty benefits for the survivors of public employees who die of COVID-19.

More than 270 city employees have died of COVID-19, de Blasio said. Their families, he said, "need to know that their futures are secure."

At his daily coronavirus briefing, de Blasio also said:

  • Remote learning would be provided to students in grades 3 through 12 this summer
  • There are now 147 confirmed cases of a pediatric inflammatory syndrome possibly linked to COVID-19, with 69 of the children testing positive for the virus or its antibodies
  • Blood donations are urgently needed, as blood drives have been "cut off and disrupted" by the coronavirus pandemic — NEWSDAY STAFF

Northwell says it's down to 886 COVID-19 patients

Northwell Health said Tuesday it had 886 COVID-19 patients at its hospitals, a 17% drop from the same period a week ago.

Northwell has reported a decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients every day this month except on Monday, when it said the number of patients at its facilities rose by four patients. Northwell's Staten Island University Hospital didn't have any COVID-19 patients admitted into the hospital Sunday, the first time that's happened since the pandemic started. 

Northwell, the largest health system in the state, said it had 11 deaths in its system, which encompasses Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. Ten of the 11 deaths were at Long Island hospitals. The other was in Forest Hills, Queens.

The death rate has been in decline for the better part of a month. Northwell's highest one-day death total was 92 on April 14.

For the Long Island region to begin reopening, it needs to hit the hospital deaths metric. To do so, the region must experience 14 days of declining hospital deaths or an average of fewer than six deaths per day over the most recent three days of data.

According to the most recent state data, Long Island had five days of declining hospital deaths and an average of 12 hospital deaths per day over the past three days. The state is expected to update this metric this afternoon. — DAVID REICH-HALE

De Blasio: NYC beaches must stay closed, despite plans to open on LI

Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking Tuesday morning, said New York City must keep its beaches closed until further notice, despite plans to open beaches on Long Island and elsewhere.

"It's a different reality in Long Island. It's a different reality in New Jersey. And I think the concern there is to follow the state rules and keep beach attendance limited, and I'm sure they'll be able to do it," he told 1010 WINS radio.

De Blasio described a conversation he had with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: "She understands how important the city and the people of New York City are to the suburbs and the suburbs are to New York City. We're working together. We can't open our beaches. We cannot take the chance of a huge number of people congregating together."

Asked about a report that proof of residence would be checked at Long Island beaches over concerns about out-of-towners from the city crowding the beaches, de Blasio said: "That's not the impression I have."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Monday that Smith Point and Cupsogue beaches would be open to county residents only. Republican legislators in Nassau plan to announce a bill Tuesday that would restrict use of county beaches to Nassau residents. — MATTHEW CHAYES

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