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Opinion

Trying to make it work

County Executive Laura Curran gives a briefing on

County Executive Laura Curran gives a briefing on COVID-19 in Mineola on April 3, 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Getting Nassau back to business

Nassau County’s Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council is beginning to discuss what it will take to reopen the county’s businesses and kickstart the local economy. 

“This is still a health crisis first and foremost,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told The Point Thursday. “But at the same time, we can’t procrastinate on how we recover.”

A council subcommittee will discuss a range of issues, from who might go back to work first, to the cleaning and other protocols that the county will require a business to adopt before it can open its doors. Curran noted that much of the panel’s advice will be based on guidance from state and federal governments. 

The council, established last month, is co-chaired by IDA chief Richard Kessel and Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz, and includes Long Island’s leading business advocates, union leaders and local business owners. It meets – virtually – weekly. 

Hofstra recently surveyed 1,400 business owners about how the pandemic is shaping their concerns and fears. It found that about three-quarters of them said they will or might have to lay off employees. A staggering 97% said they anticipated revenue declines in the second quarter, with more than half of those saying the decline would be above 50%. Now the IDA will spend as much as $65,000 for HR&A Advisors to analyze the survey results and develop economic projections and next steps. 

The council is also thinking about creative ways to advocate for additional funding for local businesses. “It’s clear that … what’s coming down from Washington is not enough,” Evlyn Tsimis, Nassau’s deputy county executive of economic development, told The Point.

It’s impossible to know which industries might open first, or which employees could go back to work first. But Curran said she sees a scenario in which “what makes us unique” leads the way – the beaches, marinas, and other quintessential Long Island industries that might be able to get moving sooner, perhaps with limited density.

Tsimis also pointed to construction projects that could be restarted. 

“We can identify projects that are transformational, so that once you pick them up again, it’ll be even more important to get people back to work,” Tsimis said, pointing to the Nassau Hub as an example.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Changes emerge during emergencies

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are under tremendous pressure as the coronavirus pandemic rages through New York, and state and county EMS leaders are making changes to respond. 

They’re also reminding their first responders of existing protocols that might be treated fairly loosely in more normal times, but need to be adhered to strictly when health care resources are stretched to the breaking point.

“We are doing four or five conference calls a week with the state and other counties,” said Frank Chester, chief instructor at the Nassau County EMS Academy in Old Bethpage. “One big change is a one-year extension of all EMS certifications that will keep more people qualified to serve.”

Chester said other changes to make it easier for EMS workers and volunteers to stay certified or regain certifications easily are under discussion but have not yet been adopted.

And while there has been a lot of nerve-jangling talk about changing how EMS handles emergencies, Chester said some of it is more about reiterating or tweaking procedures. Recent stories said that EMS workers in New York who cannot find or restart a pulse while administering CPR on adult cardiac arrest patients have been instructed not to bring those patients to hospitals. The reason is to mitigate the virus risk to EMS workers and the crush at hospitals, and sadly because further treatment is almost never successful. Chester said that’s essentially what the guidance was already, but responders routinely would do the transport because in non-pandemic times, further treatment might be considered worth a try.

Chester also said there’s a fantastic rumor mill developing among and about EMS workers because the situation is moving so fast and changing so quickly, but the approximately 900 advanced life support responders and 3,500 basic life support responders in Nassau County are steadily and calmly working through both the confusion and the danger to themselves. 

Chester, 69, of Williston Park, said he’s been doing EMS for 51 years and he’s “never been prouder of these men and women. I’ve been very proud in the past, including during 9/11, but this is a tough situation, and between the paid workers and the volunteers they’re doing a helluva job. 

“They’re holding up surprisingly well, God bless ’em.”

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

The safe way to vote

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons

Final Point

Podcast: Behind the scenes at Stony Brook

Stony Brook University Hospital is at the heart of Long Island’s fight against COVID-19. Episode 9 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a tour of some quieter sections of the hospital with Dr. Kristie Golden, a member of the hospital administration executive team. 

Away from the busy medical areas, Golden discusses telehealth measures meant to better serve and protect patients and health care workers, and ways the hospital is trying to keep up the spirits of employees on the front lines. Golden says they’re holding strong.

“I think that there are so many things that health care workers are taught,” she says. “And one of those things is about how to manage a difficult situation, how to stay calm in a situation that to the average person might be extraordinary.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

The Point will not be published Friday. We will be back in your mailbox on Monday. Stay safe.

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