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Step inside a hospital under siege

Horror, hope and courage inside the 'red zone'

A Newsday reporter and videographer spent three days inside Mount Sinai South Nassau, which has seen 248 people die from the coronavirus.

Health care workers portrayed a hospital under siege by a disease that kills unmercifully and does so in a way that confounds the most experienced doctors and nurses. But they also were defiant in their determination to risk their lives to save others and to harness their skills to give their patients a chance to survive.

Watch the video to see what those on the front line are dealing with and hear from nurses, patients and physicians, including the pregnant physician assistant who plans to work until she goes into labor and the doctor who returned to work after his own personal battle with the virus, which he likely passed on to his wife and 6-week-old baby.

Then, add your reactions to those of other readers.

Hazard pay for 'heroes'

The daily coronavirus death toll dropped below 500 for the first time in more than two weeks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday, as he proposed “hazard pay” for front-line workers and a new effort to combat the virus in public housing projects in minority neighborhoods.

Calling them heroes, Cuomo said health care workers, police, transit workers and others on the front lines are exposing themselves to COVID-19 every day and deserve up to a 50% bonus.

“They are the ones that are carrying us through this crisis … any reasonable person would say we should right this wrong.”

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'Aggressive' antibody testing begins

Starting today, New York will embark on a testing program to help determine the full scope of the coronavirus pandemic, a vital step as officials envision how to reopen the state’s economy, Cuomo said.

The program begins with a 3,000-person random survey across the state to determine how many people have COVID-19 antibodies in their system, a sign they had the disease but have since recovered. 

"We are going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation. We are going to sample people in this state, thousands of people in this state, across the state to find out if they have the antibodies," Cuomo said.

The above chart shows new cases in Nassau and Suffolk in recent days. See more charts and maps tracking hospitalizations, testing, deaths, cases by community and other statistics for Long Island. 

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 30,677 confirmed cases in Nassau, 27,662 in Suffolk, 136,806 in New York City and 247,512 statewide.

Suspension of visits at group homes 'breaks your heart'

The coronavirus has forced drastic changes at dozens of group homes for Long Islanders who are developmentally disabled or medically frail. 

At Independent Group Home Living, a consortium of not-for-profits that is one of the largest on Long Island, with members operating 82 group homes for 900 residents, parents haven’t been allowed to visit for weeks. Important but not urgent services, such as speech and occupational therapy, have been suspended.

When Caroline Serva turned 10 this month at Angela's House in Stony Brook, a home that serves children with serious medical problems, her parents left birthday presents on the front porch. 

“You can’t hold your daughter on her birthday — it breaks your heart,” Robert Serva said. 

Exotic cars for kids

By now, you've probably heard or seen a birthday car parade. But what about one featuring more than 100 exotic cars — like a neon green 2016 Dodge Viper — trucks and motorcycles?

One Long Island man has been leading these free, over-the-top birthday parades for children.

Copiague Harbor resident Michael LaRocca started the “Strong Island Car Parades 4 Kids” Facebook group, where anyone interested in driving in a car parade, or having one for their own child, can reach out to him.

“The dates are booked through the end of May,” says LaRocca, “with an average of seven to 10 a day during the week and up to 20 a day for Saturdays and Sundays.”

More to know

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory are working at a feverish pace to determine which drug molecules can block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells and replicating inside them.

Summer camp owners and directors across Long Island say they are still planning to open — although modifications may be in place — while parents weigh whether to send their kids.

Northwell Health is placing nearly 4,000 Amazon Echo Show devices and a few hundred other tablets in its hospitals to help health care workers more frequently communicate with COVID-19 patients without needing to wear protective equipment.

Marinas and many golf courses in the state can reopen with safety restrictions, Cuomo said.

Long Island school officials are considering various ways to grade students during the fourth and final quarter, including a pass/fail option.

Securing at-home care for COVID-19 patients from home health aides may be more difficult as worker safety concerns grow within the industry.

News for you

Cocktails to-go. From maple manhattans to tiki drinks to pomegranate martini, check out these bottled cocktails that can now be tacked on to restaurant takeout orders.

Grants for small businesses. If you own a small business, you could be eligible for financial help from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is offering $5,000 grants as negotiations between Congress and the White House continue over replenishing two federal loan programs that ran out of money last week.

COVID-19 medical bills. If you're among the thousands of people that have symptoms so severe that you must be admitted to a hospital, here's what your care could cost you.

Two new restaurants. It’s not easy opening a restaurant during normal business times — but two have opened this week in the midst of a pandemic. They're only accepting takeout orders for now.

The ultimate comfort food. Could shakshuka be the perfect coronavirus food? It’s simple to make with items you likely have on hand, highly nutritious, very delicious and this recipe is full of ingredients that researchers believe may help raise our mood levels.

Plus: Kids getting stir crazy? Here's an assortment of activities to keep them occupied, including virtual story times, concerts and visits to children's museums, fitness and crafting classes.

While we can't bring back professional sports, we can bring you our latest sports trivia quiz to help fill the void.

Stay connected with real-time updates about the virus' impact on the Island by visiting our live blog, and watch the latest daily wrap-up video.


Narrowing distance in animal planet. You must have seen the goats by now, Michael Dobie writes in his latest Newsday Opinion column.

Stars on social media, they wander through a desolate town in Wales. Resplendent in white, their majestic horns arced in gentle curves, the wild Kashmiri goats live in a nearby nature preserve, but they're in the streets of Llandudno because the townspeople are not.

The humans are in coronavirus lockdown, like much of the world. And the goats are taking advantage, exploring newly empty terrain, eating hedges and flowers, climbing onto walls. In videos, you can hear their hoofs clack as they trot down deserted pavement. 

Usually, it's the animal world that retreats in the face of human expansion. Now it's the reverse. We're the ones hunkered down and withdrawn, and animals are expanding their range into our neighborhoods.

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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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