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Coronavirus on Long Island: Updates for May 29-31

Steve Bellone.

Steve Bellone.

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

Sunday updates

NY dentists given the green light to reopen Monday

Dentists across New York State will be allowed to reopen on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday, a large step to resuming regular health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dentists' offices will be required to follow state guidelines on safety and social distance, Cuomo said in a statement issued after his daily news briefing in Albany.
-- Lisa L. Colangelo

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's Sunday update:

Bellone: Number of COVID019 patients in hospitals decline, but at a slower pace
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in his briefing on COVID-19 Sunday that hospitalizations continue to decline although at a slightly slower pace.
He said there are now 269 people being treated for the virus in county hospitals or a decrease of 6 in the last 24 hours going back to May 29.
Another 111 people tested positive for the virus, which Bellone said is above what had been the daily increase of under 100 people.
The total number of county residents testing positive is now 39,646, which doesn’t include the 13,959 testing positive for antibodies.
He said 24 people were discharged from the hospital and nine more people have died from the virus, bringing the county’s death toll to about 1,900.
Since the start of the pandemic,  Bellone said the county has given out 5.7 million pieces of personal, protective equipment to various medical facilities and first responders.

NY state parks closed to visitors

By 2 p.m. Sunday, the following state parks were full and closed to incoming visitors and traffic:

Caleb Smith, Connetquot River, Planting Fields Arboretum, Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Caumset, Orient Beach, Hempstead Lake, Valley Stream, Belmont Lake, Shadmoor, Montauk Point, Camp Hero and Amsterdam Beach. Capacity at the parks has been limited to ensure social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. 
The state parks department also announced that New York State Park campsites, cabin and cottages will open Monday for people who have existing reservations. New reservations will be accepted for a limited number of cottages and RV sites on Monday as well, with additional availability throughout the summer, the agency said on its website.
-- Lisa Colangelo

Long Islanders fill up state parks as temps get warmer

Sunny skies and warm temperatures Sunday lured people to beaches and parks, where capacity has been slashed to ensure social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

By noon, state parks including Caleb Smith, Connetquot River, Planting Fields Arboretum, Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Caumset, Orient Beach and Hempstead Lake were full and closed to incoming visitors and traffic.

-- Lisa Colangelo

Cuomo: Number of New Yorkers dying from COVID-19 declining

The number of New Yorkers dying from COVID-19 continued to decline, to 56 on Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday. 

"Which is, in this absurd reality we live in, actually very, very good news,' Cuomo said of the decrease during his daily news briefing in Albany. He pointed out the number of COVID-19 deaths in April was about 800 a day.

"This reduction in the number of deaths is tremendous progress from where we were," he said. "We have gone through hell and back, but we are on the other side. It's a lesson for all of us."

Cuomo also noted that 60 days ago, about 3,400 people were being hospitalized because of the pandemic.

"Yesterday we had 191," Cuomo said. "Who made all that progress? ... It wasn't government. It was we the people." -- Lisa Colangelo

Watch Governor Cuomo's Sunday update:

Saturday updates

Watch Laura Curran's Saturday update:

Watch Governor Cuomo's Saturday update:

Friday afternoon updates:

MTA chairman asks NYC employers to rethink work hours

The chairman of the MTA on Friday implored New York City employers to do their part to help provide commuters “as much space as we can” when they return to the LIRR and subway systems, including by reconsidering when and where employees do their jobs.

In an “open letter to the New York business community,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Patrick Foye asked employers “to help us keep New York moving by staggering work hours, allowing flexible start times, extending telecommuting plans, and expanding opportunities to work from home for employees for a few days each week or full time.”

The MTA, including the Long Island Rail Road, has been carrying less than 10% of its usual riders for much of the last two months, and has been operating a reduced schedule. But it is expected to ramp up service once commuters begin returning to work. — ALFONSO CASTILLO

Farmingdale rethinking Main Street plan

Farmingdale’s plan to allow dining on Main Street next week may be delayed in order to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lockdown orders. This week, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced the county would fast-track applications for municipalities such as Farmingdale to close off streets to allow for outdoor dining.

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand had been working on a plan to do that on Main Street, a county street, when Long Island gets to Phase Three of reopening. That phase permits restaurants to resume sit-down service, though with social distancing rules in place, that are expected to reduce capacity.

Curran’s plan would allow municipalities to provide outdoor tables on closed streets for curbside delivery and pickup that already is allowed without waiting for Phase Three. The wrinkle is that the municipalities, not the restaurants, would have to provide the seating. If the restaurants supply the tables, that could be considered outdoor dining, which is not yet approved for Long Island.

Ekstrand said Friday the issue of who owns the seating hadn’t been mentioned previously.

“I don’t know of any municipality that’s going to buy 60 tables and 500 chairs and give them to the merchants,” Ekstrand said. “On Monday, we’ll team huddle and figure out what the heck is going on.” — TED PHILLIPS

Bellone: Phase 2 guidance sought from other communities

As other New York towns begin phase 2 of reopening their economies, Suffolk County will look at what they are doing for guidance, County Executive Steve Bellone said Friday at his daily COVID-19 briefing.

He noted that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday issued guidelines for entering phase 2 as the Suffolk looks ahead to its next phase.

Camping reservations for June 15 and beyond will open Friday at 4 p.m., Bellone said, adding he hoped the system would not see the glitches it had in the past.

He said Suffolk’s COVID-19 numbers are all on the decline: the number of those testing positive stands at 39,435, an increase of 86; 13,406 people have tested positive for the antibodies to the virus; and 85 people are in ICU beds, a drop of 7.

The Suffolk County death toll is 1,879, an increase of 8 in the last 24 hours, Bellone said. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's press briefing

Curran: Antibody testing begins at 4 clinics next week

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that the county’s four community clinics will begin offering coronavirus antibody testing on Tuesday.

Antibody tests determine whether a person has been infected in the past, which might provide at least some level of immunity for a period of time, though it’s unclear for how long.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be reserved for antibody testing at the clinics, which are in Elmont, Westbury, Hempstead and Freeport.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will be reserved for viral testing at those sites, Curran said.

Testing hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays, by appointment only, at 516-396-7500.

Curran said that of 4,664 viral tests administered Thursday, 2.27% were positive. — NEWSDAY STAFF

Curran: On track for Phase 2 reopening
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Friday that she’s confident the region is on track for Phase 2 reopening of the economy “within a couple of weeks.”
The second phase would involve the reopening of businesses involved in professional services, finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, real estate, rental, and leasing.
Curran said about 17% of Long Island jobs came back online this week when Phase 1 reopened. That phase includes jobs in construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade.
When retail fully onboard, 30% of Long Island jobs would be back, Curran said.
Coronavirus numbers continued to trend favorably in the county. There were 377 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the county on Thursday, a decline of 12 from the previous day. Forty-three patients were discharged, and 15 were newly admitted.
There have been 40,140 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county dating back to March 5. – NEWSDAY STAFF

Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing

Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's press briefing:

Friday morning updates

De Blasio: More commuters likely to drive to work when economy reopens
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he expects in the short term, more commuters than usual would drive to work instead of relying on mass transit when the city’s economy starts to reopen.

Asked his advice for those without a car, he said: "I really want to push back on the notion that we can solve everything all the time."

"I think New Yorkers are very resourceful. They also find their own ways to get things done," he said, adding: "People have to improvise, and I believe they will."

De Blasio has said the city could start its Phase One reopening as soon as the first half of June.

The mayor said that even once the city begins to reopen, restrictions could be re-imposed if indicators suggest the coronavirus is back on the upswing. He did not give specifics when asked, such as what loosened restrictions would be reversed. – MATTHEW CHAYES

Northwell: Down to 624 COVID-19 patients
Northwell Health on Friday said it had 624 COVID-19 patients at its hospitals, an 18% drop from the same period last week.

Northwell has reported a drop in day-to-day COVID-19 patients every day but one in May. It has seen a decline in coronavirus patients 44 of the last 46 days. 

The health system said it discharged 70 patients on Thursday, when it admitted 23 COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals throughout Northwell's system has reported lower coronavirus volume. For example, LIJ-Forest Hills has 45 COVID-19 patients, down from 53 a week ago. Mather Hospital has eight COVID-19 patients, down from 15 last week. – DAVID REICH-HALE