Starting tonight, members of the Suffolk County Police Department will be wearing masks in public to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Initially, officers will be wearing surgical masks. They will also have N95 masks when necessary when they are interacting more closely with the public.
Wearing masks in public will become more common for everyone, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that everyone will be required to wear a masks in three days when they can’t be at least six feet away from other people.
“That is part of the new normal,” said County Executive Steve Bellone (D) on his daily conference call with reporters. “The intent is to stop the spread of the virus.”
Amid recent positive signs in the number of hospitalizations, Bellone said the county is having discussions about an eventual reopening of the economy, but the county is “not there yet. The guidance [about social distancing and keeping non-essential businesses closed] will remain.”
Bellone also announced the death of Detective Sergeant John Kempf, a 32-year veteran of the force who died after a battle with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. A member of the First Precinct, Kempf, didn’t receive the typical funeral and in-person celebration of his life.
With Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Chief of Police Stuart Cameron, Bellone watched hundreds of officers line up in front of their vehicles and offer a hand salute as the family and motorcade drove to the cemetery.
The experience was “very different than what the experience would normally be for his police family,” Bellone said. Bellone asked county residents to keep the families of Sergeant Kempf and all the other families who have lost loved ones during this time in their thoughts.
After a two day decline in the number of hospitalizations, the numbers climbed again for a second straight day, albeit at a slower pace than last week.
The number of hospitalizations increased by 22 to 1,630. At the same time, the number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds rose by 31 to 562.
The county currently has 622 beds available, with 94 ICU beds.
The county also reported 832 new positive tests, which brings the total to 23,523. The county has tested over 53,000 residents at this point.
New testing sites will be available, by appointment only, starting tomorrow at Wyandanch and North Amityvlille.
“The good news we like to report is that 174 people have been discharged” over the last 24 hours, Bellone said. That’s the highest number the county executive has reported since residents started needing hospital care to fight off COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency passed a sales tax exemption for manufacturers, supplies and distributors who are switching processes to make personal protective equipment.
“We want to encourage” businesses to provide the necessary protection for health care workers and first responders, the county executive said. “We are grateful to businesses that have already stepped forward to change their operations and adjust to their new environment.”
East/West Industries is making face coverings for law enforcement officers in the county, which will replace the surgical masks.
“Our goal is to give [officers] fabric masks they can launder and reuse,” Cameron said.
By the time of the daily call, Bellone didn’t have any update on fatalities connected to coronavirus.
Separately, the date for the collection of data for the census has moved from August 15th to October 31st.
Bellone welcomed the extension and urged everyone to fill out the correct information because “every person that is not counted means we’ll get short changed on revenue coming back to our state in the form of different programs that are available.”
Residents can access the census through my2020census.gov.
Catholic Health Services Clinical Trials
Meanwhile, Catholic Health Services is enrolling patients for two clinical trials to develop treatments for COVID-19. The health services group is participating in a Mao Clinic trial to use convalescent plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma treatments use antibodies from people who have fought off the virus to treat those who have been infected but haven’t yet mounted an immune defense.
Catholic Hospitals are offering convalescent plasma at six hospitals.
The second study will use remdesivir. Gilead Sciences created the drug to treat the Ebola virus. It has shown some efficacy in treating other coronaviruses including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center in Roslyn and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip are all participating in the remdesivir trials.
Potential donors must be over 18 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Patients who are at a high risk of disease progression to severe or life-threatening will receive this treatment.
The remdesivir study will occur over 10 days. On the first day, patients receive 200 milligrams of the drug, and on the other days, they get 100 milligrams doses.
Interested donors, who must be symptom free and fully recovered, and anyone else seeking additional information can contact Catholic Health Services at (855) CHS-4500.