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'Our single greatest challenge'

Short 15,000 ventilators

“Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeated what has become his mantra about the critical need for machines that help people in respiratory distress after being struck by the virus.

The state needs 30,000 ventilators to prepare for an expected apex of hospitalizations within 21 days, Cuomo said. New York had 4,000, purchased 7,000 and the federal government has sent another 4,000, as the state continues to shop for more, he said.

That leaves the state 15,000 short of the projected need.

"Our single greatest challenge is still ventilators," Cuomo said.

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 3,285 confirmed cases in Nassau, 2,260 in Suffolk, 17,856 in New York City and 30,811 statewide.

Six dead from one LI community

Peconic Landing, an upscale retirement community and continuing care facility in Greenport, suffered a sixth death linked to the coronavirus, an 89-year-old man with no preexisting health conditions, the management reported. In the past week, those who died there include three woman, ages 96, 97 and 89, and two men, ages 88 and 96. 

NY's share of $2 trillion relief

The White House and Senate leaders of both parties announced agreement early Wednesday on a $2 trillion emergency bill to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the pandemic.

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The urgently needed measure is the largest economic rescue bill in history. It is intended as a weekslong or monthslong patch for an economy spiraling into recession — or worse — and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.

“Big help, quick help is on the way,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who expected approval by the Republican-led Senate later in the day. He said New York State will get at least $40 billion, but Cuomo says the numbers don't work.

No more funerals, weddings

The Diocese of Rockville Centre, home to 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island, is stopping all funerals, weddings, baptisms and any other gatherings in churches because of the epidemic, church officials said.

Some burial services may be offered if possible but only at gravesites and while maintaining “safe distance precautions.” 

The diocese's previous ban on people attending Masses remains in effect, though priests can still celebrate them and have them broadcast or live-streamed. 

Funeral directors are also adjusting to a new way to mourn the dead that includes no ceremonies, no honor guard and no hugs to comfort the grieving.

Hopes for a spring sports season

High school athletes across Long Island are in limbo as they await word whether the spring season will be salvaged as schools throughout the state remain closed through at least April 1.

Teams are prohibited from officially practicing and players are restricted from running their own unofficial practices.

"If they told me all I'm going to get is one more practice, or one more scrimmage, I'll sign up for that in a heartbeat," said Emma Ward, a three-sport star at Babylon High School signed to play lacrosse at Syracuse next year. "I just want to play."

High school seniors committed to playing sports in college are faced with new concerns regarding scholarships and the impact of the NCAA canceling its spring season and affording all college seniors an extra year of eligibility.

More to know

Grocery chains are installing barriers made of Plexiglas between cashiers and customers in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, including local Lidl, King Kullen, Stop & Shop and Stew Leonard’s locations. (A local Trader Joe's had to temporarily close, because an employee is suspected of having the virus.)

The LIRR is cutting service 35% starting Friday due to the steep decline in riders — and the fare revenue they bring in. Even traffic on Long Island roadways looks dramatically different.

Domestic violence cases have spiked in Nassau by 10% since the start of the year, officials said Tuesday, and the pandemic is partly to blame.

Experimental treatment for NYers with severe cases of COVID-19 could start as early as next week, according to a top state health official, who also said a test to determine who carries antibodies to the virus is almost ready.

Drive-through convenience stores are booming on Long Island with some reporting business has doubled as shoppers looking to avoid entering grocery stores stock up on eggs, milk, bread, and, of course, toilet paper.

Wall Street bonuses will be smaller this year, resulting from the serious damage the pandemic is inflicting on financial markets and the global economy, it will likely hurt Long Island’s economy, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli predicted.

News for you

Drive-by birthdays: Has the coronavirus forced you to cancel a child's birthday party? Help ease the disappointment by following in the tire tracks of these Long Islanders, who are embracing drive-by celebrations

Is my food safe?: If you've wondered whether the virus can be passed through food or food packaging, we've got an answer to this and other commonly asked questions about COVID-19 on our FAQ page.

Before you run to the bank. Long lines have been popping up at local banks and credit unions in recent days, but before you head out to get some cash, check to see if your financial institution is among the several reducing hours and operations, and closing locations.

Help for local businesses. If your company has been hurt by the coronavirus, Long Island’s county governments want to hear from you. Nassau and Suffolk officials are asking business owners and executives to fill out one of these surveys in hopes of helping local companies recover with federal and state funds.

Cheese plates and vodka gimlets: Imagine getting knocks on your door every hour or so, for several hours, and when you open up each time, you're showered with cheese plates, vodka gimlets and fried oysters. That's how about 40 Patchogue residents spent their Saturday night, taking part in the town's first virtual pub crawl.

Plus: The Tony Awards joined the list of things postponed because of the pandemic, but Turner Classic Movies has a lineup of movies, specials, birthday tributes and star-packed spectacles for the remainder of March and all through April to keep you entertained.

With gyms closed and showers in Wednesday's forecast, check out the various virtual workouts that local fitness pros are offering.

Tell us: How do you think local government is handling the coronavirus outbreak? Submit your answer and see what other readers said.

Commentary

No, we are not overreacting: As much of America settles into a surreal “new normal” in which we are allowed to leave home only for necessities or “essential” jobs, small businesses get shuttered, and unemployment claims surge, some are raising the inevitable question: Are we overreacting to the coronavirus pandemic and, as President Donald Trump suggested in an all-caps tweet, letting “the cure be worse than the disease”? 

In her latest column, Cathy Young asks this question and writes: I believe that a fairly draconian lockdown for at least six to eight weeks is needed to prevent a public health catastrophe. But I also realize that it’s easy for me to say that as someone who can do virtually all of her work from home. For millions, a total or partial shutdown will mean total ruin.

We need to talk about ways to mitigate the economic damage and about an exit strategy from the coronavirus war. But what definitely isn’t helpful is peddling misinformation to claim that the crisis isn’t as bad as we’ve been told and that things can go back to normal sooner rather than later.

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