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Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato is hospitalized for COVID-19

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato in Mineola on

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato in Mineola on Jan. 4, 2019. His office issued a statement Friday saying he tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at a regional hospital. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, an influential Long Island political figure who made his views known on the national stage for more than two decades, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized, his office said Friday.

D'Amato, 83, tested positive a week ago, and immediately self-quarantined at his home, his office said in statement.

"As his recovery was not as prompt as he would have liked, out of an abundance of caution, he admitted himself to a regional hospital where he continues to be treated for the virus and remains in good spirits," the statement said.

D’Amato, a Republican from Lido Beach, was a longtime U.S. senator for New York and major political player on Long Island. He served in the Senate from 1981 to 1999, and is also a former supervisor of the Town of Hempstead. He was so famous for staying attuned to local constituents' needs that he was nicknamed "Senator Pothole."

D’Amato declined to comment through a spokesman, who said he was doing well.

"He was appropriately grouchy," Gary Lewi said. "He was not recovering as fast as he wanted to and he did the right thing and went to the hospital."

Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who had spoken to D'Amato, said the former senator went to the hospital Friday for fatigue and was expected to spend the night until at least Saturday.

"Senator D’Amato is resting comfortably and in good spirits," D’Esposito said. "His fiery attitude, witty rebuttals and unique sense of humor were present in all conversations I’ve had with him. He appreciates everyone’s thoughts and prayers."

D’Amato’s former opponent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democrat who defeated him in 1999, said in a statement he wishes him "a full and speedy recovery."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said D'Amato told him Thursday he was doing better, still fixated on politics. He said D’Amato remains a fixture in Long Island and D.C. politics.

"He’s the same guy I met 50 years ago — strong-willed, strong-voiced and not a hint anything wrong was with him," King said.

Several other Long Island officials have also tested positive or recently quarantined.

Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin is continuing to quarantine for two weeks. He said he is isolating away from Town Hall and his family past Thanksgiving after coming in close contact with someone who tested positive, though he tested negative on Wednesday.

Hempstead's Deputy Comptroller and Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi also tested positive for COVID19 along with Floral Park Village Trustee Archie Cheng.

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