With hospitalizations declining, Suffolk County is nearing six out of seven metrics to reopen its economy.
The county, which has had 230 contact tracers, is hiring additional people this week and plans to reach the 450 contact tracers required soon.
In the meantime, the only unmet metric remains a 14-day decline in hospital deaths.
The number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 fell by eight through May 16 to 505. At the same time, the number of people who are in the Intensive Care Unit declined by seven to 169. Of those people in the ICU, 129 are on ventilators.
Hospital occupancy remains near 70 percent overall and at 64 percent in the ICU.
Even though the county has experienced a dramatic and healthy decline in the strain on the health care system, officials continue to try to stock up on PPE and other equipment that might be necessary if a second wave of the virus returned in the fall or winter. That would include ventilators.
An additional 47 people were discharged from the hospital in the last day.
Meanwhile, the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 107, which is below the average for the last week, bringing the total who have tested positive for the virus to 38,224. That excludes the 9,925 people who have tested positive for antibodies.
This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced today that Western New York around Buffalo will be able to start the reopening process Tuesday, May 19.
Separately, as the county prepares for Memorial Day Weekend, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced that Smith Point and Cupsogue beaches would only be open to residents.
“My priority is to make sure Suffolk County residents will be able to enjoy access to their beaches during this crisis period,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “We are looking forward to opening and welcoming people to our beaches with COVID-19 safety rules in place.”
Bellone said the county has distributed 54,000 additional pieces of personal protective equipment to nursing homes and adult care facilities throughout the county over the last day.
The county executive also urged residents to fill out the 2020 census to ensure that the county receives back from the federal government at least as much as it sends to Washington.
The benefits that come from a correct census count not only include accurate representation in the federal government but also provide unemployment insurance, homeland security funding and health care spending, which would help offset the county’s current expenditures during the pandemic.
Bellone urged people to “talk to friends and neighbors. It’s important for homeowners and business taxpayers, if they haven’t done it yet, to visit my2020census.gov. It takes a few minutes. We want to make sure we get everybody counted in Suffolk County.”