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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates for May 27

Construction continues at the new Belmont Arena for

Construction continues at the new Belmont Arena for the New York Islanders on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 in Elmont. Credit: Howard Schnapp

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

Latest updates:

Wednesday updates

Suozzi: ‘Cultural competency’ lacking in medical field

Dr. James Hildreth, president of the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, asked Congress on Wednesday for $5 billion to fund a consortium of historically black medical schools to combat coronavirus in underserved neighborhoods.

Hildreth said the financial support is necessary to establish and implement care strategies for saving African Americans and other disenfranchised lives, to recruit and train staff to conduct health education about the possibility of a resurge of COVID-19, and financially supporting low-resourced African American and other minority families to become healthier.

“We understand the cultural difference and distrust in these communities,” Hildreth said. “We know where to go and we will be trusted.”

The four schools are Meharry Medical College, Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C., Morehouse Medical School in Atlanta and Charles R. Drew Medical School in Los Angeles.

Committee member Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-Glen Cove, said a major problem is the lack of “cultural competency” among those in the medical field.

“There is simply a lack of understanding of other people,” he said.

Suozzi also asked Hildreth what Congress can do to help create more minority doctors.

Ibram Kendi, the founding director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University, said that all states should release COVID-19 data broken down by race. That will help pinpoint where resources are needed, he said.

He noted that blacks and Latinos are less likely to work at home, less likely to have health insurance and less likely to live in unpolluted areas. – CRAIG SCHNEIDER

Bellone: Suffolk County creates virtual job portal

On the first day of the county’s reopening, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the county had created a virtual “career and talent” portal to connect employers with applicants.

Bellone said the portal was a “major step forward” that would give veterans a 24-hour advantage over other applications for a position.

There will be real-time alerts about the status of jobs and applications, he said.

Suffolk, which is in phase one of the reopening starting Wednesday, had another 59 people test positive for the virus overnight, a number Bellone said represented a markedly declining trend.

Hospitals are at 64% capacity and intensive care beds are at 60% capacity, well under reopening guidelines.

He said 90 patients are in ICU beds, a number that hasn’t been below 100 since March.

Nevertheless, 10 people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing Suffolk’s death toll to 1,861. --NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's live press briefing:

Cuomo to Congress: 'Stop abusing New York'

 Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that there can be no national recovery if state and local governments are not funded.

 Cuomo, in Washington, said the states most impacted by COVID-19, including New York, represent more than 1/3 of the gross domestic product.

 “My point to our friends in the Congress, stop abusing New York … ,” he said. “Stop abusing the states that bore the brunt” of the crisis.

 The governor, who met with President Donald Trump at the White House earlier in the day, said 74 New Yorkers died Tuesday from COVID-19, up from 73 on Monday.

 Cuomo said his meeting with Trump "was not about politics” but about how to supercharge the reopening, especially in New York, which has been hardest hit by COVID-19.
 He said he asked Trump how to get infrastructure projects up and running, especially because New York needs “the jobs now more than ever.” —NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:

Curran: More encouraging COVID-19 numbers

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted the 44th straight day of declines in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients in the Long Island Region, what she called the longest streak of any region in the state.

And, she said Wednesday, Long Island has experienced a 14-day decline in COVID-19 hospital deaths. “This was one of those tricky metrics we were having a hard time meeting; we have met it,” she said.

Curran spoke at a residential building construction site in Uniondale as the region kicked off its reopening of Phase 1 of its economy, which includes construction.

The state’s regions had to meet seven metrics to start Phase 1 of reopening, including a sustained decline in the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths over the course of a 14-day period. Regions also can satisfy that metric if the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths doesn’t exceed five. 

Curran said there were 67 new confirmed coronavirus cases the previous day, which she called “a relatively low amount.” –NEWSDAY STAFF

 Senators ask Cuomo to allow outdoor graduations

The state Senate majority, in a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, urged the governor to allow “school districts to safely hold high school graduations outdoors and in person in July” by following social distancing and public health guidelines.

The push for outdoor high school graduations follows an announcement on Tuesday from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to permit in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies starting July 6 for middle schools, high schools and colleges.

New York State senators in their letter focused only on high school graduations, however.

“We know you share with us a commitment to find a way for them to celebrate their final high school moment in a traditional, ceremonious manner,” the letter read.

“I think our high school graduates deserve a proper graduation,” said state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “By the summer, they should be able to perform these ceremonies safely, and I believe if we can begin planning now, we can make this happen.” – CATHERINE CARRERA

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s press briefing:

De Blasio: NYC projecting $9B tax revenue loss due to pandemic
The New York City government is expected to lose even more tax revenue than previously projected due to the coronavirus pandemic — $9 billion, up from $7.4 billion, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

“We are now $9 billion in the hole,” de Blasio said at his daily news conference.

De Blasio has warned of furloughs or layoffs of municipal workers in the absence of a federal bailout.

By state law, the city must balance its forthcoming budget by the end of June. 

“We are getting to a point of really tough choices,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio has asked the state to allow the city to borrow money for expenses.

“It’s something we need as a last resort,” the mayor said, citing the precedent of predecessor Mike Bloomberg seeking a similar exception after the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. He said the state has granted itself borrowing authority in response to the coronavirus pandemic. – MATTHEW CHAYES

Northwell reports one virus death over past 24 hours
Northwell Health on Wednesday said it had 660 COVID-19 patients at its 19 hospitals, as the number of patients and deaths related to the virus continue to fall. The number of patients have fallen nearly 22% since the same period last week, and 80% from the peak during the first half of April.

The health system reported only one death on Long Island – at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore – over the past 24 hours. A week ago, there were eight deaths on Long Island.

There were eight deaths over the past 24 hours at its health system, which also includes facilities in New York City and Westchester County.

The number of COVID-19 patients is down considerably at many Long Island hospitals. For example, Southside has 36 coronavirus patients, a 39% drop from the same period a week ago. At the height of the pandemic, there were more than 230 patients there.

"Everything seems to be headed in the right direction," said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman.

Lynam, however, cautioned that with Memorial Day weekend in the rear view mirror, and Long Island beginning to reopen, it's difficult to tell if the numbers will continue to fall. – DAVID REICH-HALE

Bellone: Pandemic may change how county employees work
One of the biggest revelations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, has been the ability of county employees to work from home.

Bellone, appearing Wednesday morning on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York,” said "our experience in Suffolk County is we've had many employees who are incredibly productive working from home."

He said that success may also help the reopening process since the county "is not looking to increase density with people who don't need to be here."

"This may really change the way we do work here," he said. – JOHN VALENTI

Bellone on Phase 1 reopening: ‘We’re ready’
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday he’s confident that retail businesses will adjust to curbside guidelines as Phase 1 of the region’s economy opens today in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bellone, speaking on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York,” said retailers will need to adhere to the guidelines to keep both employees and customers safe. “It is about creativity and that’s what entrepreneurs do,” he said.

Of the economic reopening, Bellone said, “We’re ready … the economic devastation has been real.”

He also said contact tracing – the ability to trace the contacts of someone who has been exposed to coronavirus in order to limit the virus’ spread – is a key to reopening safely. Tracing, he said, will help to quickly identify potential spikes in cases. “We have to be able to stamp them out quickly and contact tracing will enable us to do that,” he said.

Phase 1 reopening includes select retail for curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off; construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade; agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting. – NEWSDAY STAFF