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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates for May 21

Groups of beachgoers, for the most part spaced

Groups of beachgoers, for the most part spaced apart, gather at Jones Beach on Saturday, May 2, 2020. 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.

What's happening today:

Thursday afternoon updates

Bellone: Mass gatherings on LI ‘just don’t make sense’ right now

There’s no formal decision on July 4 fireworks on Long Island but mass gatherings at this point don’t make much sense, said Suffolk County Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a joint press briefing today.

Curran said Nassau has canceled all Eisenhower Park summer events. “We can be nimble,” she said of adjusting plans if need be.

Curran also said that the law to limit beaches to county residents “is done” as soon as New York City beaches would reopen.

Bellone said Suffolk is taking such a decision day by day. “Right now, any of those mass gathering events just don’t make sense from a public health and economic perspective,” he said. 

“Opening up to mass gathering events would just undermine our goal to open up the economy again and get people back to work,” he said.

Watch Laura Curran, Steve Bellone and George Latimer's live press briefing

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Curran: LI Region at 4 of 7 metrics to reopen

The Long Island Region is meeting four of seven metrics set by the state to reopen, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Thursday, down from five metrics as reported earlier this week.

“The one that we fell back on was the hospital capacity [metric],” Curran said at her daily coronavirus briefing. To meet that metric, regions must have at least 30% of their hospital beds available. Curran said that as of Wednesday, the region was at 29%.

Other metrics that still must be met are contact tracing capacity and a sustained decline in daily hospital deaths. Curran said she’s confident the region will meet those two metrics soon.

Each region has to hit the seven metrics to reopen. Seven of the 10 regions have reached those marks.

Curran also highlighted encouraging numbers for Nassau County: 564 people were hospitalized with coronavirus, compared to 2,500 at the peak of the surge last month. And Nassau County reported five new deaths. The high was 219 deaths on April 6, she said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing

Thursday morning updates

Cuomo: Distance learning for summer schools

Summer school will be conducted through distance learning only – not in buildings or classrooms - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday, as he cited more cases of what may be a COVID-19-related illness in children.

Cuomo said 157 cases of the illness have now been reported statewide, with more states and countries uncovering cases in the past week. At least three young people in New York have died from the illness, including an 18-year-old from Suffolk County.

Cuomo said it was too soon to make a decision on whether schools will reopen in the fall.

Also, the state extended the sales tax filing deadline again, to June 22, as small businesses struggle, Cuomo said. The deadline had been extended originally from March 20 to May 19.

Rockland County is now eligible for elective surgeries, Cuomo said, as COVID-19 statistics continue to move in a favorable direction.

Hospitalizations and intubations of COVID-19 patients continued to decline statewide Wednesday, as did the number of new cases, at 246. Still, 105 New Yorkers died of coronavirus, the governor said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's press briefing:

Northwell, Catholic Health Services report fewer COVID-19 patients
The number of COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health and other health systems continues to decline.

Northwell, the largest health system in the state, on Thursday had 796 coronavirus patients at its hospitals, down 19% from last week. Last Thursday, Northwell dipped below 1,000 COVID-19 patients for the first time since March.

Northwell has reported a drop in COVID-19 patients every day but once in May.

Catholic Health Services late Wednesday said it had about 240 COVID-19 patients, down about 75% from the peak in mid-April.

"We continue to go in the right direction," said Dr. Patrick O'Shaughnessy, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Catholic Health Services, which operates six hospitals on Long Island.

Northwell Health on Thursday said it had six deaths at Long Island hospitals over the last 24 hours, down from eight for the same period the day before and 12 last Thursday.

Northwell said it had 14 deaths throughout its network, which includes hospitals in New York City and Westchester County. - DAVID REICH-HALE

De Blasio says NYC economy reopening could start in June, discourages residents from visiting LI beaches
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that New York City’s economy — including construction, wholesale trade and manufacturing — could begin to reopen in the first half of June, mirroring the state’s standards for a “Phase One” reopening.

De Blasio said he would give more specifics in the final days of May, based on the city’s coronavirus infection and hospitalization indicators.

Asked his advice to city residents who are considering going to the beach on Long Island because city beaches are closed, de Blasio urged his constituents to stay put.

“I’m not encouraging people to do a lot of traveling. The beaches all over the region are going to come with lots of restrictions, you know, if there’s too many people, they’re just not going to let people on the beaches. So if you go somewhere, you don’t know if you’re going to be able to get on the beach,” de Blasio said.

He added: “It’s not forever. It’s just for a season, and then this too shall pass.” – MATTHEW CHAYES

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