Positive COVID-19 Tests Increase, Hospitalizations Decline, But Death Toll Rises

Positive COVID-19 Tests Increase, Hospitalizations Decline, But Death Toll Rises

Stony Brook's Mobile Stroke Unit is continuing operations despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Photo from SBUH

Amid the start of new coronavirus testing at hotspots including Wyandanch and North Amityville today, the number of residents testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 increased by 960 in the last 24 hours to 24,483.

At the same time, hospitalizations have declined by 45 patients to 1,585.

“That is the key number we have been watching,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit also fell by 25 to 537, while the number of people intubated also declined.

The drop in hospitalizations marks the third time in five days that the closely watched gauge has declined, while the increases in the previous two days were smaller than the weekly average in the prior week.

Bellone suggested that these numbers could suggest a “leveling off,” albeit at a high level.

Suffolk County continues to add hospital beds, increasing capacity by 39 to 3,425, with 744 ICU beds.

The number of beds available is now 655 overall, with 112 ICU beds.

The “good news,” Bellone said, is that 152 people were discharged from the hospital in the last day.

At the same time, the county continues to suffer losses stemming from the virus. In the last 24 hours, 40 people have died, bringing the number of deaths to 693.

Earlier today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended New York Pause to May 15, which means that schools and non-essential businesses will remain shut through at least that period. Starting tomorrow, residents of New York will be required to wear face masks when they are in public places and they can’t maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

Bellone mentioned several initiatives the county has started to manage the economic and employment recovery.

He described the potential need to change the Suffolk County Tax Act, which is a law that’s been on the books for 100 years that blocks the county’s ability to access tax funds until the middle of the year.

“Because of that, the county has to borrow money to get through the first six months of the year,” Bellone said.

Bellone announced that the county has created a COVID-19 Fiscal Impact Panel, which will analyze the ways the virus is causing damage to the county’s finances. Emily Youssouf, who Bellone described as an “expert in private and public sector finance,” will chair that panel. Youssouf had been a board member for the New York City Housing Authority under the Bloomberg Administration.

Stony Brook Announcements

Stony Brook University said it will continue to operate its two Mobile Stroke Units. The specialized ambulances are available every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The units allow patient triage and treatment in the field. Clinicians aboard the ambulances can administer a medication that minimizes brain injury at any location and then, when necessary, can transport the patient to the closest facility.

With a stroke, time is critical to save brain cells, explained Dr. David Fiorella, Director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular Center and founder of the mobile stroke centers.

Separately, Stony Brook University Hospital recognizes the anxiety patients feel when each health care professional who comes into their rooms is wearing a mask and, often, a face shield that hides most of their face. In one unit of the hospital, care givers will begin wearing staff ID pictures on their gowns so patients can see the face of the staff member providing care. The idea may extend to other areas of the hospital after a pilot period.

The idea, called the Face Behind the Mask, came from Nurse Practitioner April Plank after she started working in a COVID unit