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LI nurses 'absolutely terrified'

Reusing masks for days

“We’re being told there aren’t enough supplies, that this is what we have to do,” said Tracy Kosciuk, a registered nurse at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and chapter president for the New York State Nurses Association. “There are seasoned nurses who are absolutely terrified.” 

She and a nursing assistant at Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue described reusing N95 respirator masks for days. They said they were instructed to scrub and reuse face shields and protective gowns, then hang the gowns in hospital hallways outside patients' rooms. The gowns were not used for multiple patients' rooms. 

Some of these are typically single-use items, discarded before leaving a patient’s room to limit the risk of cross-contamination. In normal times, violating that protocol could be a fireable offense, said Michael Chacon, Long Island representative for the state nurses association and a registered nurse for 25 years.

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 12,024 confirmed cases in Nassau, 10,154 in Suffolk, 57,159 in New York City and 102,863 statewide.

Tracking the spread on LI

Long Island has become an area of concern as the number of coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000 across New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, as he declared he will send in the National Guard to take critically needed ventilators from hospitals and private medical facilities to be redeployed in areas where they are most needed.

In a grim tone, Cuomo said the state recorded another one-day high of deaths from the virus, 553 since Thursday, and a saw a new high of hospitalizations, with some 1,400 admissions. Another 1,400 patients were discharged in the same period.

For several consecutive days in Nassau County and the last two days in Suffolk County, the new number of COVID-19 infections detected has surpassed 1,000 cases in each, new state figures showed.

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Newsday is tracking the spread of coronavirus on Long Island and its impact on local hospitals. See a map of coronavirus cases by community and the latest charts about tests, hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus in Nassau and Suffolk.

Deciding who gets a ventilator

Life-and-death decisions about the use of ventilators and other vital medical equipment threaten to become a reality for Long Island hospitals caught in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, with the number of patients needing intensive care outpacing the supply of devices. 

Dr. Art Fougner, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, informed the group’s members on Thursday: “Based on information from Gov. Cuomo’s press briefings, along with communications from our member physicians, hospitals in New York are getting to the point where ventilators as lifeboats are reaching capacity. At this point, the most difficult decisions facing physicians will have to be made.”

In the worst-case scenarios, New York doctors in ICU units may have to resort to “triage” of desperately ill patients on ventilators — particularly those who don’t appear to be recovering after more than 10 days — and giving these breathing machines to incoming patients deemed to have a better chance of survival.

New protocol for cardiac patients

Patients in cardiac arrest who cannot be resuscitated at the scene should not be transported to hospitals, according to an advisory distributed to Nassau medical first responders. The advisory from the Nassau Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee, which sets policies for emergency medical service units, came as Long Island hospitals struggle with an influx of critically ill coronavirus patients. 

Those pronounced dead at the scene will now be taken directly to a morgue or a funeral home, officials said.

More public spaces off-limits

Local government officials are growing increasingly frustrated with Long Islanders not adhering to social distancing guidelines, warning that they may resort to issuing summonses and closing more parks and other public spaces to force compliance.

Playgrounds, beaches and basketball courts in various local communities have been fenced off to keep the public away, and officials in one town said they recently had to break up a soccer game and tell the players to disperse.

Virtual dating game

Daters from Long Island are facing the same dilemma as others like them around the world: How to handle a romantic relationship during a coronavirus pandemic that can make holding hands with a date a health risk.

But some Long Island dating operations are getting creative, turning in-person speed dating events into video-only experiences. For instance, Gail Adams, the founder of 7 in Heaven Singles, is gathering groups together for blind video dates including a "Quarantine Dating Game” played via the Zoom app.

More to know

Woodmere has among the most cases in Nassau, a distinction that has transformed life in the largely Jewish community, where families now hold virtual funerals and a kosher market takes the temperature of customers at the door, according to residents.

Unemployment claims filed by Long Islanders surpassed 50,000 last week, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

The state budget, filled with aspirational numbers, was approved by New York lawmakers and hinges on getting more federal help to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and grants broad gubernatorial powers to make cuts if it doesn’t.

Public schools across Long Island and the state have a chance of avoiding many of the teacher layoffs and other feared cuts with hopes of a billion dollars-plus in pandemic-relief payments from Washington.

James Taylor and His All-Star Band, with special guest Jackson Browne, have postponed their upcoming U.S. tour, which included a July 8 stop at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater.

Long Island nonprofit organizations say the pandemic has produced a decline in donations and volunteers, or forced some to close because of isolation requirements.

Mike Francesa has agreed to a 20% pay cut through July, joining WFAN’s other highest-paid hosts in seeking to help the station through the business downturn.

Stocks fell again on Wall Street following the latest grim reading on the toll that the coronavirus is having on jobs as the economy grinds to a halt.

News for you

Your updated guide to takeout. Whether you're craving barbecue, Italian or even a bargain, we've got you covered with this interactive guide to restaurants offering curbside pickup and delivery. (And don't forget these spots offering free food for those in need during the pandemic.) 

Help with April bills. The coronavirus has dealt a financial blow to millions of Americans, but help is available if you're struggling to pay your mortgage, utilities and student loans, among other bills.

Time for a furry companion. Many Long Islanders are discovering that now is the best time to adopt or foster a dog since they're spending much more of it either at home or going for solo walks around their neighborhood. Here are hundreds of local dogs looking for homes.

Need a laugh? Lucille Ball, Will Smith, Penny Marshall and Ray Romano are here to help you smile and maybe even temporarily put aside all this pandemic news. Here's where to watch 112 great vintage sitcoms from "The Honeymooners" and "Happy Days" to "Full House" and "Family Matters." Or if you'd prefer to a movie, check out these 12 goofy films you can stream.

Easter dinner to-go: Your family can have its honey-glazed ham or roasted leg of lamb for Easter without you having to cook yet another meal during this quarantine. These Long Island spots are offering complete holiday takeout meals with all the fixings, appetizers and desserts.

Your questions answered. Are you safer outside? Can the wind blow the virus? Should I take ibuprofen or Tylenol if I suspect I have it? Get answers to these and other commonly asked questions.

Sanitizing your car. Since vehicle interiors are essentially small contained spaces, it is important to take these steps to reduce the risk of contracting the virus while driving or riding inside.

Plus: Whether you're looking to learn a new skill, start a garden or declutter your home, or simply need new ideas to keep your kids safe and distracted, check out our updated guide of upbeat things to do without leaving your house.

For recipes and meal prep ideas from our "Quarantine Cook," follow Newsday's FeedMe Instagram page.

And get real-time updates about the coronavirus on Long Island from newsmakers and reporters here and watch our daily video wrap-up.

Commentary

LI hospital beds. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Long Island has about 7,250 hospital beds, according to a Newsday analysis of New York State Health Department data. After a mandate from Cuomo that all hospitals double their capacity, the number of available beds has increased rapidly.

See the updated map of available hospital beds on Long Island and learn more about what's being done to further increase capacity.

A note to our community:

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