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Virus infects hundreds of LI hospital workers

'We're afraid for us, our families'

The numbers, provided by the region's hospitals at Newsday's request, give a partial view of the pandemic's toll. 

Though many of the employees have since returned to work, larger facilities such as Stony Brook University Hospital and those run by Northwell Health in Nassau have seen roughly 200 workers each test positive in recent weeks. See the breakdown by hospital.

Orders to reuse masks and gowns have compounded the inherent dangers workers face, leading to additional infections, according to nurses and unions. Staff members who tested positive are being sent back to work before being re-tested as long as they haven’t had a fever for 72 hours, some officials said.

“We’re still afraid,” said Yasmine Beausejour, a registered nurse speaking on behalf of the New York State Nurses Association. “We’re afraid for us, our families. Are we exposing them?"

Two Long Island nurses are known to have died after contracting the virus, along with at least five other medical support staff. Among them was Ali Dennis Guillermo, 44, who was hailed as a selfless father and compassionate health care provider. 

"Everyone who ever worked with him loved him,” said one of his colleagues. 

ICU admissions dip for the first time 

New York is flattening the curve of infections and beating most projections of cases, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared Friday, even as he announced a staggering one-day death toll of 777.

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He said that for the first time since the crisis started the number of intensive care unit admissions dipped into negative territory, meaning more patients were released than entered ICU.

Cuomo spoke in the most detail yet about reopening the economy while cautioning that social distancing must continue to avoid another wave of cases. 

The number of new cases on Long Island jumped dramatically, fueled by the expansion of testing sites and greater availability of testing kits.

The above graph shows Long Island's daily totals of hospitalized cases. See the latest data including maps and charts tracking testing, deaths, cases by community and more for Nassau and Suffolk. 

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 21,512 confirmed cases in Nassau, 18,692 in Suffolk, 92,384 in New York City and 170,512 statewide.

From wiseguy to nice guy

Joe Gannascoli is taking a whack at charity work.

The East Rockaway actor — whose mobster character Vito Spatafore was killed in the sixth season of "The Sopranos" — has turned to helping deliver meals to hospital workers.

A part-time chef who says he has cooked meals “all over the Island,” he said his sister-in-law and a niece are nurses. His niece has returned to work after testing positive and recovering, he said.

 "Seeing my sister-in-law go through it, what my niece goes through … I just hope it gets over and we catch a break,” he said.

He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money so he could purchase meals and bring them to two Nassau hospitals. By Wednesday he had raised $2,625 and made his first delivery.

Nurse, cop marry in driveway wedding

The bride's father escorted her down the driveway.

The groom's dad had become an ordained minister online just for the cause.

Kelly Donohue and Andrew Schuerlein ditched their plans for a June walk down the aisle at Sacred Heart, and a 250-guest reception at the Milleridge Inn, and instead wed outside her parents' North Merrick home.

Kelly is a maternity ward nurse at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, pressed into duty dealing only with COVID-19 patients. Andrew is a Nassau police officer and is in daily contact with patients, too.

“I’ve been so overwhelmed with everything going on at work, right now, I just wanted to get married," she said.

Watch video of the wedding.

More to know

Shoppers must wear face masks to enter the very few essential businesses still permitted to be open, such as groceries and drugstores, in one Long Island village.

Victims of crime and families who lost loved ones to crimes are enduring a longer wait for justice now that New York’s court system is handling only essential and emergency proceedings.

'Here Comes the Sun' has become a victory song in the fight against COVID-19 at one local hospital, and a version of 'Let It Be' by caregivers has drawn almost 300,000 views.

The Communion wafer business persevered through economic recessions, 9/11, natural disasters and other Acts of God, but not the coronavirus pandemic as Long Islanders go without it this Easter.

Businesses catering to pets could be devastated by the pandemic as millions of Long Islanders stay home and no longer need the service of dog walkers or day care centers

Women and girls are suffering more from the pandemic, according to a 16-page policy brief released by the United Nations.

TV host Carson Daly got a priest to perform a drive-by blessing for his newborn daughter outside the family's church on Long Island.

The Mets' Pete Alonso is among those thoroughly enthused by Major League Baseball’s nascent plan to potentially stage the entire 2020 season in Arizona.

News for you

Ideas for Easter. Looking to bring some Easter fun to your home -- or block -- this year, since you can't attend your usual holiday gatherings? See how these Long Islanders are finding ways to celebrate from a safe, social distance. Plus, virtually attend a service on Sunday featuring local churches of different denominations.

Look your best. If you were hoping to get a haircut, touch-up your roots, shape your brows or trim your beard before your family's virtual Easter gathering, check out these expert tips for performing your own salon treatments.

Groceries from Panera. Panera Bread has begun offering pickup and delivery of some common grocery items, including milk, bread, fresh fruit and more, at 32 of its Long Island locations.

Help navigating loan programs. Small businesses owners are facing the challenges of surviving the pandemic and navigating the government programs meant to help them. Get answers to common questions about Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Take a hike. Better weather is forecast for this weekend, so why not go for a solo nature walk or take your family for a hike -- while following social distancing guidelines -- on one of these local trails.

Plus: "Saturday Night Live" is back — sort of. Catch an at-home version of the show featuring "Weekend Update" and various pieces by cast members. Only some portions will be live.

Find dozens of other ideas for the weekend to keep your household well-fed, entertained and even accomplish some items on your to-do list, like tackling garden chores or decluttering your home.

Get the latest news about the virus' impact on the Island by visiting our live blog and watching our daily wrap-up video.


For us, fighting COVID-19 is the right call to action. I am a proud, first-generation, Chinese American graduating from the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell on April 10 — a month early, writes Lei Alexander Qin in an Op-Ed column for Newsday.

My mother’s family is from Wuhan, China, a beautiful metropolitan city where I spent many summers as a child. It is now forever linked with the birth of the 2019 coronavirus pandemic.

In January, my relatives in Wuhan sent reports of a mysterious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like illness infecting citizens in the city. I hoped this new “mystery virus” would stay overseas. As we discovered, no one is immune from the virus or its deadly reach.

One of my close friends, an internal medicine resident at Lenox Hill Hospital, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 after working tirelessly for a month in the intensive care unit. She is recovering at home, but she is itching to go back to the hospital and rejoin the fight. In a time of uncertainty, her bravery, and the bravery of my mentors, inspires me to serve.

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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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