And so it begins.
The Suffolk County economy, stalled for over two months as Long Island tried to contain the spread of a deadly virus, has restarted, entering Phase One of a gradual reopening process today.
Calling the reopening a “new beginning,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters that the county was “up to the test in every way imaginable.”
To bring employers and employees together, Bellone announced the start of a virtual career and talent portal that is part of the Department of Labor. The portal will link job seekers with Suffolk County businesses that need workers.
Bellone called the site a “one stop shop” that will do everything virtually, enabling employees to see job postings in real time. Veterans will get first priority for these jobs, as the county wants to honor those who have served the nation with a 24-hour hold on these postings. Residents can access the site through SCNYForward.info.
Hospitalizations declined by 30 to 305 as of May 25. The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit also declined by 12 to 94, which is the first time since March that the number of people in the ICU with COVID-19 was below 100.
Hospital capacity remained well below 70 percent, with 65 percent of beds available in hospitals and 60 percent available in the ICU.
In the last day, nine people have left the hospital to continue their rehabilitation and recovery at home.
The virus continues to claim the lives of residents. In the last day, 10 people died from complications related to the coronavirus as the number of people who died from COVID-19 in Suffolk has reached 1,861.
On the first day of reopening, the county executive said he hadn’t had any negative reports about people violating any ongoing restrictions on businesses or social distancing rules.
With contact tracers in place and the county monitoring public health, Bellone didn’t anticipate the county backsliding into another version of New York Pause.
The contact tracers should “give us the ability to target our response,” the county executive said, “rather than what we had to do at the beginning of the outbreak.”
Bellone said the county had learned important lessons on the other side of the viral peak, which should put it in a solid position to monitor any pockets of positive tests.
“I’m certain we are going to do this safely as we open up,” Bellone said.
Separately, Bellone urged the federal government to invest in infrastructure projects on Long Island, including a sewer project.
The county has one of the largest infrastructure projects for sewers in the region in decades, Bellone said.