SC Explores Possible Bed Sites, Police Alter Procedures to Protect Officers

SC Explores Possible Bed Sites, Police Alter Procedures to Protect Officers

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The first day after the Stony Brook University mobile testing site started administering tests for the coronavirus Covid-19, the number of positive tests continued to build.

Earlier today, Suffolk County had 239 confirmed cases, according to County Executive Steve Bellone (D). That includes 64 in Huntington, 39 in Islip, and eight in Smithtown.

Among those with the virus, 27 are in the hospital, with 7 in the intensive care unit. Public health officials said the majority of the cases remained adults.

The current treatment involves supportive management, which includes maintaining oxygenation through ventilatory support, and maintaining fluid balances, Dr. Gregson Pigott, Commissioner of the county Department of Health Services, said on a conference call with reporters.

Bellone suggested that the number of cases climbs as testing increases, adding that the virus is here throughout the county and is spreading through community transmission.

Bellone urged people to keep practicing social distancing and to keep their children, who might otherwise want to congregate in larger groups amid the warmer weather and the time off from school, from gathering.

Suffolk County has tested over 1,500 people to date. Those with symptoms can call 888-364 -3065 to set up an appointment for drive thru testing at Stony Brook University’s South P Lot. Bellone has heard that people have complained about the time they need to wait for an appointment, but he asks for patience amid the growing need. He also reminded residents that they won’t necessarily get a test without medical authorization from a doctor or telephone reference.

The county’s text alert update, which residents can receive by texting CovidSuffolk to 67283, now has 26,000 people signed up, while 5,500 people have signed up to create a Smart911 profile.

The county executive said the county delivered personal protective equipment to hospitals yesterday and is continuing to make similar deliveries today.

Bellone reiterated that “experts have made clear that this virus may not reach its peak for four to five weeks. When it does, we will see the need for hospital beds to rise and potentially rise dramatically. That is an issue of great concern.”

At the same time that hospitals have been able to increase the number of beds in the county by 300, Suffolk County officials are working to identify potential spaces for future sites to treat residents who are battling the virus.

As of earlier today, Suffolk has 479 beds available, including 74 in the intensive care unit.

“The question is not what’s available now, but it’s a question of what’s going to be needed in three to five weeks,” the county executive said.

The county has considered a site adjacent to the jail in Yaphank. They have also spoken with Suffolk County Community College about evaluating space for potential future patients as well.

Despite murmurs that New York City officials are considering a shelter in place order, effectively asking residents to not leave their homes, Suffolk officials said they have no expectations of sheltering in place.

In the meantime, Suffolk County law enforcement have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, although they are seeking additional equipment in the future, according to Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron. The police are also modifying some of their procedures and are considering altering some interactions with the public.

“If we can, we are asking members [of the public] to come outside to meet our officers,” Cameron said. “We are much more able to maintain social distance outdoors and are muc less apt to be exposed to surface contamination.”

Additionally, the police department is considering requiring the public to make some routine reports by phone or through a citizen-based online reporting, instead of making it optional.