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As death toll rises, Comfort ships in

'A morale boost'

The Comfort, which has participated in military and humanitarian operations around the world, arrived in New York Harbor to tackle its next mission: providing relief to a city crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It's an oil tanker converted in the 1980s to a floating medical facility with 12 fully equipped operating rooms. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a “beacon of hope” as New York braces for sharp increases in coronavirus cases and deaths.

“I had this incredible feeling of peace actually, that help was finally coming," de Blasio said. "That we were not alone.” 

The Comfort will remain at Pier 90 on Manhattan's west side as long as it is needed, officials say.

'Staggering' toll

New York passed the 1,000 mark of coronavirus deaths on Monday, reaching 1,218.

There were 253 deaths overnight, Cuomo said, as he announced new steps to combat a pandemic that is racing across New York State with startling speed.

"That's a lot of loss. That's a lot of pain. That's a lot of tears. That's a lot of grief," Cuomo said.

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New York's total of coronavirus cases hit 66,497, Cuomo said. If New York were a country, it would have the fifth highest total in the world, behind only Italy, Spain, China and the United States itself as a whole.

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 7,344 confirmed cases in Nassau, 5,791 in Suffolk, 37,453 in New York City and 66,497 statewide.

Rush to add beds

Long Island hospitals are adding thousands of beds  — in conference rooms, gymnasiums and lobbies — as they push to hit Cuomo's mandate to expand capacity by 50%.

Hospitals in Nassau and Suffolk counties also have opened emergency triage centers and canceled elective surgeries to make space for coronavirus patients.

Cuomo wants hospitals statewide to boost their capacity 50% to 100%, which would potentially create 32,000 beds. In total, the state needs space for 140,000 beds and about 40,000 ventilators, the governor says.

Meanwhile, from IV poles in the hallways to ultraviolet-light disinfection of critically needed respirator masks for reuse, LI hospitals are finding ways to conserve the equipment that protects their employees.

On the front lines

Long Island’s first responders are always aware they could be injured or even killed on the job. Now, they worry about contracting the potentially deadly coronavirus and bringing it into their home and to their families. 

“Our work space, if you can call it that, is the back of the ambulance, which is only 12 by six feet,” said Kris Kalender, a police medic. “So we are entrapped in that box with these patients, and mentally it drains on you ...

"You never stop thinking about, ‘OK, I got my gown on, I got my mask on, I got my gloves on, but did something sneak through?”

Across the Island and state, citizens and officials are recognizing this courage in the face of risk. In one example, first responders and essential workers are now eligible for free child care.

Clusters of cases

The coronavirus has swept at varying speeds across Long Island communities that stretch from the New York City line to the tips of the north and south forks, according to a Newsday analysis of data from New York State and Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Newsday mapped the number of known cases.

The counties are tallying confirmed cases of the virus as they show up in the Island’s towns, villages and hamlets, with clusters of higher cases influenced by factors including compliance with social distancing, population density and the level at which residents have been tested.

In another analysis, Newsday found Long Islanders are more likely to have been tested for COVID-19 than people in South Korea, where aggressive early testing is credited with helping slow the spread of the pandemic there.

Virtual story times for kids

Facing the challenge of keeping children entertained while at home, Long Islanders have turned to free nightly story times — and some are even hosting their own.

Bethpage elementary school teachers and parents have created a rotating weeknight bedtime story effort, featuring readings of children’s books on live video.

“They’re cute little stories — it’s just nice,” says Kramer Elementary School's PTA president, Michele Devine of Bethpage. “They’re relaxing, they’re not talking about coronavirus.”

This story is one in our series on neighbors helping neighbors. If you know of an LI Act of Kindness, tell us here.

More to know

Macy's will furlough a majority of its 125,000 workers as store shutdowns continue. Meanwhile, the online portal for business owners to apply for coronavirus disaster loans is again functioning after being taken down last week because of security issues.

Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are asking for help to ensure access to drugs they need, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. The drugs have been diverted for use as experimental treatments for COVID-19 patients.

College plans for some high school juniors have been put on hold amid SAT and ACT test postponements. 

Thousands of new jobsmost of them temporary — are coming to Long Island at a time when the outbreak has led to record numbers of unemployment claims.

Slim pay hikes appear likely in a coronavirus world.

Home builders and contractors said they understand the need for the state’s ban on nonessential construction but worry about long-term harm to their businesses.

Nearly nine in 10 New York voters approve of Cuomo’s handling of the outbreak, according to a poll released Monday.

A Franklin Square school board trustee, just 42 years old, has died of the coronavirus.

News for you

Should you wear a mask? Infectious disease experts largely still are saying healthy people do not need to wear face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus in their day-to-day travels.

Kids as "co-workers": Adults trying to work from home with their kids around are sharing their funny stories on social media and forming online support groups. We also give an expert's advice. This story, with video, checks in with three families to see how they're coping with home schooling. And here are four essential gadgets for your home office. 

Firsthand advice: Darryl Strawberry has a message for people who, like him, are trying to stay sober during this difficult time, or know someone who may be: Reach out and stay connected.

Country stars play requests: Husband-wife country performers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will be taking viewer requests during a live prime-time show this week filmed at their home.

Plus: 

The stars of the 2011 virus thriller “Contagion” have reunited for a series of public service announcements to warn about COVID-19.

Here's a list of restaurants offering discounts to health care and hospitality workers. For more dining options, here's our guide to takeout on Long Island. If you want to cook at home, we have four quick and easy pasta sauces to make, including some sauce best practices. 

If you're looking for something interesting to pass the time, here's Newsday's guide to upbeat things to do while stuck inside.

And we keep updating our frequently asked questions about the coronavirus, which we answer with help from experts. 

Commentary

Selflessness and selfishness at epic scale

Crisis, it is said, builds character, writes Newsday Opinion columnist Michael Dobie. And that certainly is true, for those who wish to learn from adversity and choose to fight back against it.

But crisis more reliably reveals character. And that does not always accrue to one’s benefit.

We saw that on 9/11 in the bravery of those who charged into that fiery maelstrom, and in its aftermath in the cowardice of those who attacked and harassed innocent Sikhs.

Not surprisingly, that’s happening again in this coronavirus crisis.

A note to our community:

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