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'Health care disaster'

Warnings on front lines

The Stony Brook correspondence includes a letter to the hospital community from Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of health sciences, and three emails that a nursing supervisor wrote to update her staff on the hospital’s mobilization from March 23 to March 25. Kaushansky also sat for a Newsday interview.

Together, they show the medical center scrambling to expand intensive care capacity, using a disinfectant process to conserve protective masks and increasing staff with newly graduating medical students and experienced physicians whose practices are normally far different.

“Needless to say, it is not hyperbole to state that none of us have seen, or will ever see during our careers so severe a health care disaster as being dropped on our doorstep,” wrote Kaushansky, adding, “So what we do here, what we do now will define us!”

Wrote the nursing supervisor: "Most important, try and accept that you will not be able to give stellar care to your patients. You do the best you can and then you go home and make peace with that. You are all superstars but you will burn out in a week if you do not let things go. 

"This is disaster medicine.”

Decontaminating masks

Two machines being installed at Stony Brook University will use vaporized hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 respirator masks a day, allowing as many as 20 reuses of a mask for each health care worker treating COVID-19 patients.

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The machines, from the Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus, Ohio-based science and technology nonprofit, are housed in shipping containers that were converted into airtight chambers. The goal is to begin decontaminating masks in the next few days, he said.

Stony Brook University Hospital will send its masks to the machine, and with the capacity to decontaminate so many masks so quickly, other hospitals also will be able to use it, Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney said. 

Dwindling ventilators

A rising tide of coronavirus cases on Long Island is “troubling news,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo warned Thursday, as he also reported the state’s stockpile of critical ventilators has dropped to about 2,200.

Cuomo said Long Island's hospital system is getting "stressed" by the pandemic and that the state rushed 200 potentially lifesaving ventilators to the Island on Wednesday night.

“At the current burn rate, we have about six days of ventilators in our stockpile … So, 2,200 disappears very quickly,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing in Albany.

This map provides a recent breakdown of cases on Long Island. 

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 10,587 confirmed cases in Nassau, 8,746 in Suffolk, 51,809 in New York City and 92,381 statewide.

Double trouble for unemployment

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus.

The report Thursday from the Labor Department showed that job cuts are mounting against the backdrop of economies in the United States and abroad that have almost certainly sunk into a severe recession.

Applications for unemployment benefits generally reflect the pace of layoffs. Combined with last week's report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past several weeks.

Moving patients

Northwell Health has transferred 44 coronavirus patients from its hospitals in Queens and western Nassau County over the past week to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Suffolk County, and that Port Jefferson facility is now at capacity, officials said.

Northwell confirmed the transfers within the hospital’s network of 19 hospitals that includes facilities in Manhattan, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk.

Spokesman Terry Lynam said Northwell had transferred a total of 269 patients from Long Island Jewish Medical Center Forest Hills and Long Island Jewish Medical Center Valley Stream over the past week as part of “load balancing” to lessen the strain at the hospitals hardest hit.

Criminals, victims stay home

Crime on Long Island has decreased dramatically since early March amid the coronavirus crisis, according to police statistics, as large swaths of the public have stayed home and practiced social distancing.

Nassau County has seen major crime, including felony assaults and robberies, drop about 45% since the beginning of March, according to police figures. Suffolk’s violent crime numbers have fell 29% during roughly the same time period, statistics show.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart attributed the falling crime numbers to government directives for the public to stay home in an effort to stop the spread.

"It just really takes away the opportunity," Hart said. "There aren't as many people on the street, so there are fewer targets of crime."

More to know

Real estate agents, inspectors and appraisers are allowed to resume work in New York State as long as they do so in a “clean and safe" way, a real estate trade group announced Wednesday.

Dozens of Long Island food pantries and soup kitchens have closed, and many others have altered the way they deliver food.

Amid a 90% drop in ridership, LIRR management and union leaders are urging workers to do their part to keep the commuter railroad system moving, even as hundreds of employees are on the sidelines, including dozens who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Business owners who have applied for federal disaster loans are being told they must reapply, officials said. 

The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he didn't think it would be possible to hold it in mid-July.

Long Island libraries are “virtually” open — offering free access to everything from library card registrations that normally are done only in person to programs on how to make lip gloss. And there’s been a recent uptick in registrations

Ellis Marsalis Jr., the jazz pianist, teacher and patriarch of a New Orleans musical clan, died late Wednesday at 85 from pneumonia brought on by coronavirus, leaving six sons and a deep legacy. 

Southampton Town’s free senior delivery service has so far been a success, with more than 900 town residents signing up in the first week.

News for you

Feeling kind of unkempt? You’re not alone. We're cooped up without our favorite colorists, haircutters, facialists, lash and brow shapers. So we tracked down some of Long Island’s beauty experts (and even some regular people who already have at-home treatments down to a science) to help navigate the new normal with step-by-step instruction. 

Guide to public services: The outbreak has disrupted state, federal and municipal services as government workers are shuttered at home and with priorities on emergency and essential services. Still, many agencies are taking measures to provide public services while protecting staff.

Tickets here: You’ve bought and are sitting on tickets for an NHL, NBA or MLB game that hasn’t been played because of the coronavirus pandemic. What are you to do? A Newsday survey of local major professional sports teams provided pretty much the same answer: Hang in there. Here's a team-by-team breakdown.

Plus: We asked a range of Long Islanders about their current “comfort movie” and received a range of answers, from silly comedies to overlooked classics. And if you take comfort in Broadway shows, here's a list of 15 must-see shows you can watch from your couch.

Here are four ideas for New York City things to do that you can do from home, including the Metropolitan Opera streaming nightly and a virtual tour of the Guugenheim. And on the same theme, here's a curated guide of upbeat ways to pass the time when you're cooped up. 

Newsday is presenting a free webinar on how Long Islanders can access care on Long Island and tips to stay safe, featuring columnist Joye Brown and Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. Discussion will include how LI hospitals and labs are dealing with the outbreak, what the health care system is doing to help Long Islanders and an extended question-and-answer session.

If you want to keep up with the news in real time, you can get live updates from newsmakers and reporters here. And you can watch our daily video wrap-up of Long Island coronavirus news here


In their own words

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the region, Newsday Opinion will share stories from health care workers and other Long Islanders on the front lines as they battle the virus' spread.

Here are two of their stories.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.


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