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Hospitalization rate on LI 'is a real problem'

LI hospitals see more COVID-19 patients amid holiday concerns

The number of people hospitalized on Long Island due to COVID-19 rose from 141 to 351 in the last three weeks — a 149% increase, Cuomo said at a news briefing Tuesday at the Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Corps.

"That, my friends, is a real problem," he said.

Long Island's increase is worse than the statewide average, he said. With Thanksgiving this week, Cuomo said health officials are worried a recent spike in cases will grow even worse on Long Island and throughout the state.

Dr. Mark Jarrett, chief quality officer at Northwell Health, said the rising numbers of cases and hospitalizations are troubling.

"While we don't want people to panic, we are showing great concern that things are getting worse," Jarrett said. "Add to that, people getting together for Thanksgiving and kids returning from college, and we could be on the edge of a major surge if we aren't careful."

In case you missed it: Great Neck, Massapequa Park, Hampton Bays and Riverhead were designated by the state as yellow zones on Monday.

The chart below shows how many people have been hospitalized for the virus in the state in recent days.

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Search a map of new cases and view charts showing the latest local trends in testing, new cases, deaths and more.

What to know about the COVID-19 yellow, orange and red zones

The state has been using a micro-cluster strategy in an effort to detect and stop small outbreaks of the virus before it spreads to a wider area.

These hot spots are coded by color — yellow, orange or red — to signal the degree of spread. Each zone is determined by assessing the seven-day rolling average positivity rate for 10 consecutive days in a given area.

Each zone also has different restrictions:

  • Yellow: Businesses can remain open; mass gatherings are limited to 25 people; dining limits four people per table; schools must test 20% of students, teachers and staff weekly.
  • Orange: High-risk, nonessential businesses are closed; capacity at houses of worship is reduced to 33% with 25 people max; mass gatherings are capped at 10 people; restaurants can only allow outdoor dining with a max of four people per table; schools switch to remote instruction.
  • Red: Only essential businesses can operate; houses of worship can hold activities at 25% capacity, or a 10-people max; mass gatherings are prohibited; restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery; schools switch to remote instruction.

We've got a round-up of some other common questions and answers on the zones.

Officials: 11 new virus cases reported across 8 LI courts

Court officials have reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 spread across eight Long Island courts since last week's statewide suspension of new jury selection due to a virus spike.

By Tuesday, those public notifications about virus exposure included a report of a juror who tested positive Sunday after being in Nassau County Court on Thursday.

Nassau court spokesman Daniel Bagnuola confirmed the infected person had been on a grand jury — panels that have kept working despite the suspension of any new jury service. He said the grand juror last had contact with the other 22 grand jurors Thursday and had been dismissed from duty.

Court officials told the other grand jurors Monday morning about the individual’s positive test, and the panel, which meets once a week, will continue its work, according to Bagnuola.

"All appropriate cleaning and safety protocols are ongoing," he added.

On Long Island, the real estate bidding wars continue

Over-the-top bidding wars across Long Island have been erupting and breaking records, as the market recovers from the spring lockdowns, experts said.

As socially distanced open houses were permitted to begin again, prospective buyers were eager to wait on long lines for walk-throughs of homes in communities like Patchogue, Brentwood, and Uniondale, agents said. In many cases, sellers have seen bids up to $100,000 over asking prices, agents said.

"Right now, Long Island is booming," said Jonathan J. Miller, president/CEO of Miller Samuel Inc. Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants. "The current rate of sales is frenetic, and the pace is the fastest moving market that we’ve tracked since 2003."

Miller said he compiled a list of 135 homes in Nassau and Suffolk that sold at $50,000-$275,000 above asking price since June.

LIA chief: Cuomo unlikely to mandate blanket shutdowns

A member of two state pandemic advisory panels said in a Newsday webinar on Monday that barring a catastrophic increase COVID-19 infections, it's unlikely that Cuomo will mandate blanket shutdowns for entire regions of the state.

Kevin Law sits on the New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board and the Long Island Regional Control Room. He acknowledged that new cases are rising, but Cuomo is most likely to keep action within hot spots.

Still, he urged Long Islanders not to "politicize mask wearing" and "allow COVID fatigue to make our numbers worse." He also said Long Island businesses should be mindful of an array of COVID-19 relief programs scheduled to expire at year's end.

Watch a replay of the business webinar.

More to know

Two Long Island health care facilities have been cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged coronavirus-related workforce violations: The East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon and Catholic Health Service’s St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday, as investors were encouraged by the latest progress on coronavirus vaccines and the beginning of the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released a proposed budget for 2021 that would cut 626 jobs and allocate $1.2 billion less than planned for capital improvements, citing the pandemic.

Despite an expected vaccine, it could take several months before things get back to something close to what life was like before the pandemic began. Experts say you'll want to hold on to your mask.

R&B singer Jeremih, who had been hospitalized with the coronavirus since Nov. 5, has been released from the intensive care ward, according to a report.

Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the virus, his representative said Monday.

News for you

A virtual game of gratitude. You can reflect on the past year with friends and family by playing Newsday's Gratitude Game. It's got 50 fun prompts and conversation starters for you to discuss around the table or virtual room. You and your family can play at home, or virtually with those you're unable to gather with this year.

She's helping Long Islanders get Zoom-ready. Style consultant Melanie Lippman paused her scheduled closet consultations when the pandemic hit, but now she's been helping professionals dress and style outfits for their work video conferences. She's virtually shopping and sorting through wardrobes to cater to her clients. Read about how she's transformed her services in this conversation with Newsday.

'Field of Dreams' game planned for 2021. Major League Baseball will attempt for a second straight year to bring the Yankees and Chicago White Sox together for a game in Dyersville, Iowa, home of the 1989 film "Field of Dreams." The game was scheduled to play this past season, but it was moved — now it's tentatively scheduled for Aug. 12, 2021.

Introducing Newsday Voices. We've launched a program for Long Islanders to share their COVID-19 stories. Newsday Voices gives an opportunity to work with our team of dedicated journalists who will help you tell your story through social media. Apply here.

Plus: Will Thanksgiving COVID-19 restrictions be enforced? Gatherings at homes are limited to 10 and travel is discouraged. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd wraps up in a video how Long Islanders plan to spend Thanksgiving and what officials say about enforcement.

Sign up for text messages to get the most important coronavirus news and information.

Commentary

Autumn in the COVID-19 ICU. Newsday Opinion's Mark Chiusano writes: In late October, an older man lay on his stomach on a hospital bed. His head was balanced on a pillow, and his eyes were closed. The pillow hung a little off the bed and so part of the man’s head dangled slightly with it, just past the sheets. He faced the windows and a part of his upper back had become bared. The position he was in is called proning and it is used to coax better performance from your lungs.

This was in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, but the position has become a common practice in Long Island's COVID ICUs.

Earlier this month and a few miles to the south, for example, a woman in her early 30s was proned in the Long Island Jewish Medical Center's COVID ICU. The young woman had recently moved to New York from Eastern Europe, and she had gone into the hospital having trouble breathing. She and her husband didn’t speak English fluently and didn’t understand how she could have contracted coronavirus. They did not know many people in the country. Within hours, the woman was on a ventilator and proned. She stayed that way for around 18 hours and then was flipped.

She "was flipped" because patients don't flip themselves in a COVID ICU. The units are home to ventilated, unconscious patients. So to turn them, the process can take four or five or six people working to make sure intravenous lines and breathing tubes stay connected. Being on a ventilator itself is typically very invasive in severe cases. The device will help you breathe but includes tubes down windpipes. There is also a feeding tube, and patients are sedated, partially to deal with the pain.

Adjustments have to be made to allow patients to lie proned, sedated, for 17 or 18 hours a day. That includes the kinds of padding placed on the woman in LIJ. She had patches on her forehead and on the front of her legs to prevent breakdown of her skin. That's a small price to pay, because proning has become a key COVID-19 therapy, increasing oxygen levels. A study in the American Thoracic Society’s journal suggests that proning can be a "life-saving, proven effective treatment." On Long Island amid the pandemic, it is sometimes explained more starkly. As in this grim statement from a surgical-gowned fellow outside the Eastern European patient’s room: Talking about a patient in the room next to hers, he said, "I’ll prone him until he’s better or dead."

This is the reality of the pandemic on Long Island, some three-quarters of a year into it. Keep reading.

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