As the economic toll from the lockdown during the virus becomes clearer, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) has asked department heads to come up with 5 percent cuts in their discretionary spending, which would trim $60 million from the budget.
Those departments include the Health Department, the Department of Public Works, Real Estate, Parks, the Budget Office and the Office of Aging.
“Earlier today, I directed the departments under the control of the county executive’s office to identify potential cuts in preparation for the budget that we will be working on for 2021,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.
As for the spread of the virus, Bellone said he is concerned about any increase in viral transmission during the numerous protests in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died when a former police officer, who was now charged with his murder, kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed for close to nine minutes.
“Gatherings of this size and proximity is a concern,” Bellone said. The county executive said the transmission of the coronavirus could become evident over the next week.
As of now, the county has excess capacity at its testing sites, including in hotspot areas.
Separately, Bellone and Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor) will host a town hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss testing and contact tracing. Interested residents can tune in through facebook.com/SteveBellone.
Over the last 24 hours, Suffolk County has had the smallest increase in deaths due to complications related to COVID-19, with one additional person dying. The current total is 1,916.
“Every day, I’m hoping to see that number get down to zero,” Bellone said. “We haven’t been down to [as low as one death] since the third week in March.”
The number of people infected with the virus each day continues to hover below 100. Over the last day, 91 people tested positive, raising the total in Suffolk County to 40,153. The number of residents who tested positive for the antibody was 14,778.
Hospitalizations, meanwhile, decreased by 11 to 225, with those in Intensive Care Unit beds declining by five to 56.