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New York COVID-19 deaths top 100; Suffolk's 14 most of any county, state figures show

Dr. William C. Gehrhardt, medical director at the

Dr. William C. Gehrhardt, medical director at the Dolan Family Health Center, administers a COVID-19 test at the Dolan Family Health Center in Greenlawn on Dec.1. Free COVID-19 testing is being provided by Northwell Health, Suffolk County, and the Town of Huntington. Credit: Barry Sloan

This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Catherine Carrera, Matthew Chayes and Bart Jones. It was written by Jones.

New York State surpassed 100 daily deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, including 14 in Suffolk County — the most of any county in the state.

The 128 deaths, reported by officials on Tuesday, marked the first time in months the state has registered more than 100 deaths in a single day. During the nadir of the pandemic in the summer, the daily total was in the single digits.

"Everything we have done from the start of this pandemic has been based on the facts, and the facts are that COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all on the rise all across the country," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. "We are on an unsustainable trajectory and if we don't act now, hospitals could become overwhelmed come January."

Long Island surpassed 2,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the test results from Monday, with 1,171 in Suffolk and 908 in Nassau, a total of 2,079.

New York City reported 4,146 new confirmed cases.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 270 on Monday, reaching 5,982, according to data released by the state. Nassau reported four deaths from the virus on Monday.

Cuomo has said the state is suffering a second surge of cases brought on by people gathering indoors for the holiday season that started with Thanksgiving, and by cold weather that is driving people indoors in general.

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday that even though the arrival of a vaccine is bringing some hope and "the goal line is in sight, we continue to see daily double-digit increases in hospitalizations, and we have had to report COVID-19 fatalities every day this month. These next few weeks will be some of the most challenging times, but our actions this holiday season will have a profound effect on our communities and recovery as we enter the New Year. "

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City may need to undergo another shutdown possibly after Christmas because of rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

"We're going to need to do some kind of shutdown," de Blasio said at a news briefing Tuesday.

De Blasio does not have the ultimate authority to order such restrictions. That power is held by Cuomo.

"We gotta protect lives. We gotta protect our hospitals, so, unfortunately, I don't say it with anything but sorrow, but I do think it's needed," de Blasio said.

He cited Cuomo's order in March allowing "essential work only" that lasted through the spring.

"My nomination would be right after Christmas" for a second lockdown, de Blasio said.

Although the state has the sole authority to declare shutdowns or other restrictions on activities, the governor has given some latitude to local authorities to decide how to handle their schools. He has made major decisions such as first closing schools in March and then allowing them to reopen for in-person instruction in September if they wanted.

Cuomo has also declared specific "microclusters" or "hot spots" where he has imposed varying degrees of restrictions in recent months.

De Blasio's comments came one day after the Pfizer vaccine arrived in New York and around the country. A critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Monday became the first person in the state and possibly the country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside clinical trials.

On Monday the United States also surpassed 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, more than any country in the world, as the virus rages around the country at record-setting levels in some states. New York State is seeing levels of new cases it has not experienced since the pandemic's peak in April.

County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday was a "historic day" as Nassau University Medical Center received 797 doses of the Pfizer vaccine at "our County’s only public safety net hospital which sees some of the most vulnerable residents."

Critical care workers were the first to be vaccinated, she said. The NUMC is expected to receive 2,000 vaccines from Moderna next week, she added.

On Long Island, the Half Hollow Hills public school system is shutting down in-person education from Jan. 4 until classes resume Jan. 11 — meaning school buildings will close starting on Christmas Eve for winter break and won't reopen for 18 days, according to an emailed announcement Tuesday.

The email, from Superintendent Patrick Harrigan, cites the two weeks after Thanksgiving, when the district had 80 new coronavirus cases, compared with 45 during the previous three months combined.

"Our experience with the post-holiday community spread of COVID-19 has been daunting," the email said.

Lee Avenue School in Hicksville, MacArthur High School in Levittown, and Roosevelt High School were closed Tuesday for in-person instruction because of cases of COVID-19, school officials said.

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