Suffolk County has been managing to keep the number of beds available above the rate of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus pandemic, though cases continue to climb.
In his daily call with reporters April 2, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the number of cases in Suffolk County has breached 8,927, climbing well over 1,000 by yesterday’s count. This has been attributed to the greater amount of testing being done, with over 21,000 being completed to date in Suffolk alone.
Meanwhile, the county has been trying to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order to increase the number of available hospital beds by at least 50 percent, with the goal of reaching 100 percent increase. Bellone said Suffolk has increased its count of hospital beds to 2,831 beds countywide, with 438 Intensive Care Unit beds also available for the most severe cases. Currently, 472 hospital beds and 64 are vacant and available.
This is also while Cuomo said in this morning’s briefing he is becoming even more concerned with the limited number of ventilators for use during the crisis, now being down to about 2,200.
Healthcare workers on the front lines have struggled to deal with the number of cases now coming into hospitals. Bellone said the surge is still building, but the voices of health care workers are being heard.
“They’re operating in an incredibly difficult, stressful traumatic environment in which they are working overtime, double shifts, day after day after day, in a struggle to save peoples’ lives” Bellone said. “It is emotional, it is stressful and it is extraordinarily difficult.”
The number of deaths increased by 15 from the previous day. All had underlying health conditions. This includes eight individuals in their 80s, four in their 70s, and one in their 40s and 50s. One individual in his 60s died while in mandatory isolation at a local nursing home.
Currently, there are 1,323 cases in Brookhaven, 435 in Smithtown and 1,390 in Huntington townships. While close to 9,000 total cases are growing in Suffolk, New York State currently totals at more than 92,000.
The economic impact has also been felt far and wide, and Bellone said he is continuing to build out what the county can internally do to help businesses separately from the federal government’s response. So far, the county has been keeping a survey of businesses through their recently created Business Response Unit, and as of March 31, there were over 1,200 responses to said survey from businesses that employ more than 13,000 individuals, with over 7,000 responding they had lost their jobs or employment. The overall New York number, however, is much more staggering, with approximately 6.6 million filing for unemployment, a number not seen since the 1981 recession.
“Particularly our downtowns are facing tremendous hardships, and we will need a targeted effort there,” Bellone said.
He added while some businesses have maintained some employees, “without assistance, they will not be able to keep that up much longer.”
The County Executive said he has spoken with financial institutions, who will be handling the disbursement of loans via the CARES Act, the federal financial assistance bill that promises loans to businesses to help keep people employed. The rollout of that has not been foolproof, however, with the federal Small Business Administration telling business owners they would need to reapply for their loans at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
Anybody who previously applied via email, fax or snail mail will have to reapply.
Bellone said any difficulties that said financial institutions may have must be overcome if the region is to see any kind of recovery by the time the crisis begins to ebb.
“The public wasn’t expecting this, we weren’t expecting this, but we have to deal with it,” he said. “We were on call with financial institutions and continue to convene with them.”