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Experts eye the prospect of a summer surge

Will coronavirus cases spike? Experts consult models

With the economy opening and unexpected mass gatherings taking place, including those following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, projections for the summer and beyond are anticipating continuing waves of infection.

“The dominant source of uncertainty is we don’t know what people are going to do and the decisions that are going to be made even a few weeks out” that could encourage or limit mobility, said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist and modeler at Columbia University. “The models are going to be imperfect … Those uncertainties are enormous and they swamp it.”

Stony Brook University has a new model for Suffolk that shows three projected courses for COVID-19 from the current 39,000 cases, including one that could see a spike to more than 45,000 by late June.

Just 20% to 30% increases in mobility and inconsistent mask wearing can bring the level to around 42,500 by late June. Increasing mobility by 50% without mask wearing brings it to 45,000 cases by that time. The model projects the first scenario is more likely.

Sean Clouston, an associate professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Public Health who has been modeling the virus in Suffolk and for Stony Brook’s hospitals, said projections of the model to date have been relatively accurate, starting with the major decision to lock down society in mid March.

NY must keep fighting virus amid unrest, Cuomo says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said despite the massive protests over George Floyd, the state is making steady progress against the spread of the coronavirus and asked protesters to "be responsible" to help sustain those gains.

“Keep in mind during this moment when you are going out to protest, we are still in the middle of the COVID pandemic," he said. "We are going to reopen New York City this coming Monday. Yes, protest. Yes, express your outrage. But be responsible, because the last thing we want to do is see a spike in the number of COVID cases.”

He also announced summer day camps will be permitted to open starting June 29. The question of whether sleepover camps can return is still under review, he said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo said the number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals on Monday was at “an all-time low,” at 154, he said, and far below the peak of about 3,200.

“Congratulations to the people of the State of New York,” he said. “Look at what you did. Look at the progress you made. God bless you.”

New York City, the only region that has not started to reopen, is set to enter its first phase next Monday, he said. Long Island's counties are working to clear hurdles to enter the second phase.

The chart above shows the cumulative number of tests administered in Nassau and Suffolk counties in recent days. Search a map and view more charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more. 

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 40,572 confirmed cases in Nassau, 39,980 in Suffolk, 204,377 in New York City and 373,040 statewide.

How brokers have been selling homes during the pandemic

Before the pandemic barred home showings in March, the Nantucket farmhouse-style property in Bellport, priced at $1.425 million, had attracted scant attention from serious buyers.

But the tide turned after an expertly choreographed Zoom open house, conforming to New York State on Pause, helped turn the four-bedroom house into a hotter property.

A dozen potential buyers wound up attending a virtual walk-through led online by the listing agent, Lynn Sabatelle, an associate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty in Stony Brook.

What helped, of course, was the extra attention Long Island real estate is getting from New York City residents eager to escape to safer suburbs. Soon, “we had four offers on the table,” Sabatelle said — all from potential New York City buyers. The house went to contract after in- person visits arranged with the seller, Sabatelle said.

As Long Island enters the fourth month of a statewide shutdown to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, homes are still selling under the restrictions, albeit with online tools and social distancing replacing the warmth of open houses and friendly handshakes.

Home health aide lost to COVID-19 kept working through pandemic

Yanick Beaubrun was one of those special people who felt she had to keep working when the pandemic hit Long Island.

A home health care aide, she continued to care for her patients even though she had to take public transportation to and from her Hempstead apartment.

“She was a very independent woman,” said her daughter, Jennifer Fingado, of Bel Air, Maryland. “She told me, ‘I’m going to keep on working. My clients need me. I’m an essential worker.’"

Beaubrun, 64, died April 8 of complications from COVID-19, according to Fingado. Read her story.

Read more obituaries to learn about other Long Islanders who we have lost to the virus.

More to know

The first drive-in concert on Long Island has been set for Adventureland in Farmingdale with its new Drive-In Concert Series, which kicks off June 13.

Suffolk County is expected to face a cumulative budget shortfall of up to $1.5 billion over three years because of the economic fallout from the pandemic, according to a new report.

Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the Treasury Department to waive replacement fees for Americans who may have inadvertently discarded a federal stimulus payment that arrived in the form of a debit card.

Two residents say the Southold Town Police Department dismissed their requests to break up a retirement party last week for a member of the force that appears to have violated a state ban on large gatherings.

Up to $18 million in low-interest loans will be made to Long Island’s smallest small businesses, nonprofits and residential landlords from the $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund, according to state guidelines. 

News for you

Socially distant strawberry picking. Long Island's strawberry season starts this weekend, with several farms planning to open fields for the first public picking of the season, but with some changes. Find out where you can pick your own.

Parents are learning, too. Helping their kids with lessons and homework also gave these parents some trivia-worthy info. See the fun facts that Long Island parents have picked up from distance learning. 

Indulge in free cheesecake. The Cheesecake Factory is giving away a free slice of candy-themed cheesecake to celebrate National Candy Month. The deal is offered on orders of $30 or more through Sunday.

Another concert postponed. The Stadium Tour featuring Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts has been postponed. This includes its Aug. 23 date at Citi Field in Flushing.

Plus: Join us tomorrow for our free webinar in partnership with the Long Island Association focusing on the financial landscape of small businesses during the pandemic. Save your spot.

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

Commentary

Protesting during a pandemic. Thousands of people packed into protests in Brooklyn this weekend to decry the police killing of George Floyd. Episode 27 of “Life Under Coronavirus” covers a weekend of protests in New York and what they mean for public health and the country’s political future.

In one of the region’s densest events in months of coronavirus, we asked protesters what made them brave the disease and gather. 

“It's one pandemic upon another,” said Tiffany Murrell, a 38-year-old black resident of Brooklyn who attended the Barclays Center protest but tried to keep her distance. 

The health risks are still a threat, including for Long Islanders, says Anthony Santella, associate professor of public health at Hofstra University. Santella hypothesized that there wouldn’t be a “blip in our curves” but that there would be “some disease transmission.”

Listen to how protesters and police officers struggled with that reality, donning masks but still chanting, running, being chased, and coming close. 

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