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Drop in Long Island hospitalizations speeds up

Long Island's trends are 'encouraging'

Newsday’s monitoring of coronavirus-related hospital data shows that:

  • The patient count in Nassau hospitals fell 18% in the five days ending April 26, compared to an 11% decline during the previous five. (Near the peak of the outbreak, hospitalizations increased 61% for the five days ending April 3.)
  • The number of patients in Suffolk hospitals dropped nearly twice as fast in the same period — 18%, compared with 10% in the previous five days. (Near the peak, it doubled in five days.)
  • Intensive care units experienced accelerating relief, with caseloads falling 15% in Nassau and 17% in Suffolk.

The trends are encouraging, wrote Jaymie Meliker, an epidemiologist and professor in Stony Brook University’s Program in Public Health. He cautioned, however, that Long Island is far from reaching so-called herd immunity, the point at which the virus would have greatly reduced opportunities to spread infections.

The map below shows where cases are concentrated in Long Island communities. 

Search this map and see more charts tracking testing, deaths, hospitalizations and other stats for Nassau and Suffolk.

Death certificate data suggests higher number of COVID deaths

The number of Long Island fatalities officially attributed to COVID-19 appears to significantly undercount the virus’ true toll, according to a Newsday analysis of data kept by municipal clerks.

From March 1 through April 21, the state reported 2,357 coronavirus deaths in Nassau and Suffolk, a figure that may underrepresent the reality by nearly one-third, the analysis found.

Over that same period, towns, cities and villages surveyed by Newsday handled at least 6,866 death certificates, an increase of 3,462, or 102%, from the 3,404 handled during the seven weeks in 2019.

"This can only be explained by COVID," said University of California, Irvine Associate Professor Andrew Noymer, who has been researching pandemics for more than 13 years.

Read stories of the Long Islanders who lost their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak, and if you are mourning a loved one who died from COVID-19, help us tell their story.

Elective surgeries can resume — at upstate hospitals

In an early sign of the state's gradual reopening, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that hospitals in upstate counties will be able to perform elective surgeries again, after those procedures had been postponed to reserve room for coronavirus patients.

The list does not include Nassau and Suffolk or any others in the downstate region surrounding New York City.

Cuomo also ordered the MTA to clean up “filthy” and “disgusting” subway trains that essential workers are depending on to get to work and said the agency needs to remove growing numbers of homeless people from the cars.

The latest state report on the pandemic showed a continued decline in net hospitalizations and intubations, but Cuomo cautioned that too many new patients are still being admitted and that many New Yorkers continue to die because of the virus.

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 35,505 confirmed cases in Nassau, 33,265 in Suffolk, 164,841 in New York City and 299,691 statewide.

COVID testing coming to a pharmacy near you

Independent pharmacists on Long Island said they welcome the opportunity — and the challenge — of bringing COVID-19 testing to their communities.

As part of a larger effort to boost testing around the state and gauge the spread of the pandemic, Cuomo signed an executive order that allows about 5,000 pharmacies around the state to conduct the tests.

“Pharmacists, by and large, see their patients four to five times more a year than a doctor,” said Tom D’Angelo, who owns Franklin Square Pharmacy. “Patients are used to coming to the pharmacy for help.”

It’s still unclear, however, when testing will start, which tests will be used and who will pay for them. State officials are in talks with pharmacists over these issues.

Hundreds of restaurants step up for front-line workers

More than 300 local restaurants have donated takeout-style meals every day for Nassau University Medical Center workers during the pandemic.

The hospital first started by reaching out to local restaurants about donating food, but “we didn’t really have to ask too much because they started contacting us,” said Megan Ryan, of Nassau Healthcare Corp.

Ryan has played a key role in the constant flow of deliveries to the hospital.

“We’re at least 500 donations since March, which is just amazing,” she said. 

More to know

The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate last quarter, yet it's only a precursor of a far grimmer report to come on the current April-June period.

Incidents of domestic violence are up nearly 3.5% in Suffolk since the start of the pandemic and more than 7% in Nassau since the beginning of the year, county officials said.

New York State's poison control centers have seen increases in calls related to bleach and other household cleaners, which one official linked to the anxiety created by the pandemic.

Dean Skelos, the once powerful state Senate majority leader, has been released from prison after suing to serve the more than two years left on his sentence in home confinement because of the virus.

The Mets, Yankees and other MLB teams appear to be almost done holding hostage the money fans paid for tickets to games that aren’t happening because of the pandemic.

News for you

A backyard makeover. Now that you're spending more time at home than usual, you might be thinking of sprucing up your front or backyard. If you need some help — from a distance — these Long Islanders used a virtual home design service for the outdoors to transform theirs.

Cooking class, wine included. Need a break from your usual dinner routine? One local restaurant is offering a "no-contact, cook-along” experience. It's a cross between a meal delivery kit (minus the subscription) and an online cooking course (but more personal). And they throw in a bottle of wine.

Getting back on course. Golfers looking for an escape from their homes will be happy to hear that many local courses are reopening. Here's a guide to which ones are welcoming players.

Don't neglect your car. If your vehicle is getting fewer miles than your sneakers these days because you've been stuck at home, you might want to change that. Robert Sinclair of AAA Northeast has these tips for keeping up with the care of your car, truck or SUV.

A full day with Oprah, more stars. You can tune in to this 24-hour global livestream event, which will feature 200 stars including Winfrey and Julia Roberts offering performances and conversations about overcoming the pandemic.

Plus: Join us for our latest free health webinar Thursday at 10 a.m. to get expert answers to your questions during the pandemic from Dr. Nicolas Hernandez, of Northwell Health Plainview Hospital and Dr. Salvatore R. Pardo of Emergency Medicine LIJ-Valley Stream.

And if you missed today's webinar on the latest resources for small businesses, or any others in our series, you can watch the replays here.

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

Commentary

Working with immigrants. Immigrant Long Islanders are being hard-hit by the pandemic. In Episode 16 of its “Life Under Coronavirus” podcast, Newsday Opinion speaks with Ana Flores, an organizer for Make the Road New York.

The Brentwood resident and immigrant from El Salvador talks about COVID-19 affecting close-knit households and the difficult situation for day laborers, factory workers and construction workers: Work has dried up or puts them in danger of the disease, and staying home means a brutal loss of income.

“It's not unknown that, you know, it's difficult to be an immigrant in this country,” Flores says. “We've seen that historically. But we're really taking a hit during this time.”

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