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First LI patient to test positive 'was in shock'

'I couldn't believe it. They were all talking about me.'

Miguel Chamaidan rested in a bed at NYU Winthrop in Mineola on March 5, oblivious to the angst his hospitalization had created on Long Island.

Hours earlier, he became the first Long Island resident to test positive for COVID-19 and be hospitalized, and his case made news throughout the region.

Chamaidan isn't sure where he contracted the disease. He works in the physical therapy department at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. He also runs a private car service that takes Long Islanders to and from airports.

"I was in shock," Chamaidan said. "I couldn't believe it. They were all talking about me. I knew nothing about the coronavirus. It was all shocking."

Proceeding with caution

Cuomo on Tuesday gave his most detailed plan yet for reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying hospitals must be at no more than 70% capacity and the rate of transmission cannot be higher than 1.1 for a region to resume activities.

At the same time, Cuomo pushed back against the notion of a quick reopening of the New York economy, discussing the risks of a virus resurgence that could again overwhelm hospital systems.

In looking ahead, he urged officials and policymakers across the state to "be smart" in weighing the factors at play in bringing back society after the coronavirus shutdown, saying he will be guided by health data in the state's gradual restart.

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He listed multiple factors in addition to guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that spell out a 14-day decline in COVID-19 hospitalization levels as a key element in considering a restart.

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

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 35,085 confirmed cases in Nassau, 32,724 in Suffolk, 162,338 in New York City and 295,106 statewide.

Health care workers under stress

Sustained and stressful work during the coronavirus pandemic is taking a stiff, but so far manageable, psychological toll on Long Island’s health care workers, said hospital officials charged with maintaining morale and readiness.

To keep a vital workforce performing at a high level, many hospital officials said they were focused more on providing coping strategies than long-term therapy.

A March study of health care workers treating COVID-19 patients in China found high rates of symptoms of “depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress," and on Sunday a Manhattan doctor who ran an emergency room swamped with COVID-19 patients killed herself.

“We are talking about being physically, emotionally and spiritually drained,” said Northwell chaplain Hillel Fox, a rabbi who said on some days his team now counsels as many as 75 workers. 

Helping homebound seniors

Christina Cairoli, 29, saw the effect virtual conversations have had on her 86-year-old grandfather, who lives alone in Roslyn.

“In the beginning, he wasn’t shaving his face. … You don’t realize when you’ve got no place to go or are not looking forward to something, you start to let things slip and slide,” said Cairoli, whose family members talk to her grandfather daily through video. “Now he shaves. … He’s trying to look his best for it.”

That’s why when Cairoli saw an ad soliciting volunteers to call homebound seniors, the behavioral analyst signed up right away.

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, run by North Hempstead Town’s Project Independence, aims to ease a growing sense of isolation as the coronavirus pandemic has forced seniors, who are most susceptible to the virus, to hunker down at home. Since its launch on April 7, 52 volunteers have signed up, and half have been paired with a senior whom they call at least once a week.

Fran Alex loved the city and the sea

Fran Alex shared the best of New York City and the ocean with her three granddaughters when they stayed with her in Long Beach during summers as they were growing up.

There were trips to Manhattan to see Broadway shows and historic landmarks, and visits to the beach and boardwalk in Alex’s adopted hometown, where in 2012 the Brooklyn native rode out superstorm Sandy alone in her Troy Avenue house.

The Long Beach resident, a first-generation American born to emigrants from Sicily, died April 14 at 89 while hospitalized for COVID-19, said her granddaughter, Lauren Wetzel.

Read more stories of Long Islanders who died of COVID-19 here. And if you've lost a loved one to the virus, help us memorialize them.

More to know

From dedicated quilters to a teen robotics whiz, Long Islanders are turning their careers and hobbies into ways to create face masks and shields to protect the most vulnerable.

State education leaders are pressing for cancellation of this year's teacher job evaluations on grounds that such ratings are virtually impossible to carry out, now that schools have been closed and tests suspended.

East Hampton Town police are asking people to limit their day trips out east until the state begins reopening as the town works to control weekend visitors flocking to Montauk.

Cuomo said in an interview with the news show “Axios on HBO" that he wishes he “blew the bugle” sooner about coronavirus.

The state pension fund is putting $50 million toward Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses harmed by the pandemic, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. 

A drive-through is open in Brookhaven — for paying taxes. The town opened a temporary outdoor tax collection center at town hall in Farmingville for residents who prefer to pay their property taxes in person.

Grammy Award-winning singer/actress Ashanti is providing “breakfast for champions” at Northwell Health's Glen Cove Hospital to doctors, nurses and other staffers.

News for you

Honoring Mom. Long Island businesses are coming up with ways you can celebrate Mother's Day during our time at home. Here are some options to mark the occasion and support local businesses at the same time.

Got stuff? Get it appraised virtually. Treasure hunters are on a virtual search to unearth and sell your items like furniture, art, clothing, jewelry and even tchotchkes. Professionals are giving appraisals free of charge online.

Live from Billy Joel’s Facebook page. Singer/pianist Michael DelGuidice of tribute act Big Shot will perform during a 40-minute livestream at 8 tonight on Billy Joel’s Facebook page.

Lunch, courtesy of Kim Kardashian. She's raffling off lunch and a possible TV appearance with her and her fellow "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" stars to raise money for the hungry during the pandemic.

Helping the business community. Join us for our latest free webinar at 10 a.m. tomorrow in partnership with the LIA to help Long Island businesses survive during the crisis. Reserve your spot.

Plus: Student athletes who will not compete in college didn’t get their final days on the fields or courts. Newsday spoke with several athletes and coaches across a number of sports about their unfulfilled hopes and how they have coped.

Visit our live blog for real-time updates about the virus' impact on the Island and watch our latest daily wrap-up video.

Commentary

Heroism is taking place at nursing homes, too

Last week, one of my patients at the nursing home died from a complication of COVID-19, writes Howard Guzik, medical director of Northwell Health’s Stern Family Center for Rehabilitation, in a column for Newsday.

She was given an option to go to the hospital, but she chose to stay at the facility that has been her home the last five years. She understood that she might die, yet she chose to remain among familiar nurses and aides during her final days.

Stories like this are common in adult homes and skilled nursing facilities across New York and the United States but have not grabbed headlines like other isolated incidents have.

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