A total of 93 confirmed coronavirus patients have been released from hospitals in Suffolk as County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said they have been cleared to go home. Meanwhile, however, Suffolk is trying to meet the hard task of staying ahead in the number of beds available before the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reaches its apex.
Bellone said there are 648 hospital beds and 43 Intensive Care Unit beds available, and Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County’s health commissioner, said those were spread out among hospitals, though even still he admitted, “that’s not a lot of beds.”
As counties all across New York fight to stay ahead of the number of patients, all have seen a significant lack of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and gowns. Ventilators, which can be lifesaving to critically ill patients, have also been in extreme short supply. Stony Brook University Hospital, for instance, has been looking to detail plans and designs that could put two patients on a single ventilator at a time.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday morning he would be signing an executive order allowing the National Guard to go to facilities that are not currently using equipment like ventilators and bring them to places that need them.
“I understand they don’t want to give up their ventilators … the theory is if the government gets them they will never get that back, I understand that, but I don’t have an option,” Cuomo said.
In that same press conference, the governor named several locations as COVID-19 “hotspots,” which included Stony Brook University Hospital.
Cuomo added the city could start running out of ventilators by next week.
While Suffolk County has exhausted “all” its PPE equipment for health care facilities and has hosted equipment donation drives, Bellone said they have increasingly called on companies who were interested to retool any kind of production for purpose of making medical equipment. The first of these companies, Hauppauge-based 71 Visuals, a sign making company, has retooled its facility to making face shields for health care workers. So far the county has purchased 25,000 of said face shields.
“When we can have local manufacturers, we can purchase which can be utilized in this fight to save lives,” Bellone said.
The county executive has called on any other company who is considering retooling their operations to reach out to them, saying those businesses will be worked with and compensated for their efforts.
The number of deaths due to the coronavirus continues to rise. There are now 10,149 confirmed cases, according to the county’s data tracking website. This past day saw nine new deaths, bringing the total fatalities in Suffolk to 93.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported the navy ship USNS Comfort, which is docked inside New York Harbor, is not accepting coronavirus patients, instead being used as a place for overflow, non-COVID related patients. The vast majority of its 1,000 beds are currently unused, especially since non-coronavirus related sickness and injuries has severely decreased thanks to current stay-at-home orders.
Bellone criticized the fact the ship was not being used to field the flood of new daily coronavirus patients.
“Patients need to go where there is space available to help save lives,” Bellone said.