ICU Bed Use Declines 31, Stony Brook Grads Donate 1.2 Million PPE

ICU Bed Use Declines 31, Stony Brook Grads Donate 1.2 Million PPE

Karen Tsai, class of 2017, reviewing donations with another volunteer from Photo from Stony Brook Medecine

Perhaps no figure is as indicative of the strain on the health care system as the number of residents battling the pandemic in the Intensive Care Unit. A month ago, that number was close to 550.

Kevin Tsai, class of 2019, carries donations of PPE.

Through Tuesday, the most recent period for which data is available, the number of people in the ICU dropped by 31 to 183.

“That’s the first time in a long time that [the number] is below 200,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

At the same time, the rolling three-day average of the number of new hospitalizations was below the threshold needed, 30, to reopen the economy for a second straight day through Tuesday.

“That’s very good news,” Bellone said. “We are meeting that for at least two days now. We are hopeful that the trend will continue.”

After an increase of 10 in the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 on Monday, the number fell by the same amount on Tuesday, bringing total hospitalizations to 575.

The hospital capacity for beds overall and for ICU beds is tracking close to 70 percent, which is the target figure to reopen the economy.

As for testing, the number of positive tests increased by 239 over the last day, which is considerably lower than the average over the last few weeks. The number of people tested during that period was 3,229 for a positive testing rate of 7.4%.

COVID-19 continues to take the lives of Suffolk County residents. Over the last day, 17 people have died, driving the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 1,697. To put that number in perspective, the number of deaths in the county is 60 people below the total enrollment at Ward Melville High School.

Bellone offered his thoughts and prayers to those who are grieving these losses.

As he has for several weeks amid discussions about reopening the economy, the county executive reiterated his desire to see the county reopen in such a way that it doesn’t need to shut down later in the summer or in the fall, amid a potential second wave of the virus.

Having a strong testing regime in place and an aggressive contact tracing plan is “going to allow you to identify quickly” any potential areas of transmission of the virus, Bellone said. These measures, which include 450 contact tracers, will put the county in a position to close a business or specific type of activity in as “targeted a way as possible,” he said. “That’s a much better scenario than seeing infections spike and not having a sense of where they are coming from.”

One of the lessons from other parts of the world that have reopened and then had to close businesses again has been that these measures will hopefully keep Suffolk County from sliding back after it is ready to open.

Separately, Bellone’s office delivered 45,000 personal protective equipment to nursing homes and adult care centers in the last day, bringing the total PPE to 4.7 million pieces since the crisis began.

SB Medical Graduates Pitch In PPE

Meanwhile, two Stony Brook Medical School graduates, siblings Karen Tsai, who graduated in 2017, and her younger brother Kevin, who graduated in 2019, created an organization called, which has contributed over 1.2 million pieces of personal protective equipment to areas including New York City, the Bay area, Southern California, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston.

Karen helped launch DonatePPE and created a volunteer team, which included her brother. The team has 30 people which includes web developers and health care workers. Kevin helps run the website and is writing articles about donations and collaborations with PPE producers and sponsors. He also offers insights from his anesthesiology perspective.

The group also worked with illustrator Guy Gilchrist, who worked with Jim Henson on the Muppets television show, to post downloadable coloring pages, sketches and comic strips. DonatePPE launched on March 19. In the first two weeks, the site donated 100,000 articles of PPE, which included the coveted N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns, shoe coverings and goggles.