People aren’t just testing positive for COVID-19 during the second wave; they are also entering the hospital and, in some cases, dying.
Suffolk County has reported over 1,000 positive tests in recent days, as area hospitals have seen an increase in patients needing treatment for their COVID symptoms.
Hospitalizations are now at 394 people, with 67 residents in the intensive care unit. Gregson Pigott, Commissioner in the County Department of Health, said about 2/3 of the people admitted to the hospital were over 64.
The number of deaths has also been climbing over the last six weeks. During the entire month of November, 35 people died. In just the first week of December, COVID has contributed to the deaths of 34 people.
Those numbers are up from six in October, 15 in September and five in August.
“We are not even halfway through this month [and the number of deaths] are more than August, September and October combined,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on a conference call with reporters. These figures are a “stark reminder of the danger this virus poses.”
Bellone urged residents to continue to wear masks and remain socially distanced.
Even as the first night of Hannukah, during which some families gather together to celebrate the Festival of Lights, Bellone urged caution amid small gatherings.
The Suffolk County Health Department is monitoring 13 clusters from Thanksgiving or family gatherings, some of which were below the 10-person limit.
A small gathering in East Islip involved five people, who have all tested positive for COVID-19. Another get-together in Manorville resulted in six out of nine people contracting the virus, while another in Southampton triggered seven out of 10 with the virus.
“None of these gatherings violated the state’s limit,” Bellone said. “That doesn’t mean the virus won’t spread.”
Bellone said the county is continuing to expand its testing, which “remains one of our most valuable tools.”
After testing over 2,000 students in Hampton Bays, Riverhead and East Hampton, the county started testing in East Islip on Thursday.
The county is also launching a new testing initiative for first responders. Members of fire, rescue and emergency services and emergency medical service providers will have access to rapid testing at six sites throughout the county. That testing will occur on weekends and will start this Saturday.
The county will also make testing available to county law enforcement and partner agencies.
The Suffolk County Police Department has reinstated policies to limit contact for officers. While precincts remain open, the SCPD is encouraging residents to limit visits. The SCPD is also providing limited public access to the lobby at police headquarters in Yaphank.
Residents can file police reports online at www.suffolkpd.org or by phone at (631) 852-COPS.
Crimes residents can report online include harassing communications, lost property, crmiinal mischief, non-criminal property damage, minor motor vehicle crashes, identity theft and some larcenies.
The Pistol Licensing Section will be open for purchase orders and pistol license renewals only.