Starting today, Suffolk County is providing free testing, by appointment only, at Huntington Station as a part of the county’s efforts to develop a hotspot testing program for communities struggling with a higher incidence of coronavirus infections.
Additionally, Suffolk County will open testing sites in Brentwood and Riverhead on Friday and is searching for additional sites.
Hotspot testing is “targeted and focused on those communities where we are seeing higher rates happening,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on a daily conference call with reporters. Testing will hopefully allow the county to get a better understanding of what the numbers are and will help people battling symptoms of COVID-19 to connect with necessary resources.
Bellone thanked Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, who connected county officials with Reef Technology, which is a large scale logistics company. At no cost, Reef will provide tents and help to handle the logistics at these sites, Bellone said.
“It’s a great example of a private sector business stepping up to help,” Bellone said.
At the same time, another company, called East/West Industries based in Ronkonkoma, which designs and manufactures products for airline crews and has contracts with military and commercial airlines, is working to provide face masks which are in line with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for first responders, police officers, deputy sheriffs. The masks will be cloth masks and will be made of reusable cloth. East/West is also donating the company’s time to produce this protective equipment.
Separately, Bellone said the nonprofit Long Island-based outreach center United Way is collecting donations to help people who are struggling amid the severe economic slowdown. People who are interested in donating to this effort can contact the United Way at UnitedWayLI.org. Those who are interested in accessing those resources can also visit the same site, Bellone said.
The county executive reiterated the county and state government’s 90-day prohibition on evictions.
“We understand that this crisis has created a terrible financial impact for many people, put extreme pressure on landlords” who have bills they have to pay, but “we want to may it clear that evictions are not permissible.”
Bellone highlighted that today marks exactly one month since Suffolk County recorded its first case of the pandemic. The numbers have been climbing since then and have shown some slowdown in recent days.
By the end of the day today, Bellone expects the number of deaths to approach or exceed 300, which is up from 263 yesterday.
The number of confirmed cases is approaching 17,000. Amid a determined effort to increase hospital capacity, the county has increased the number of beds by 1,000 to 3,322. The number of intensive care unit beds is up to 746, which is an increase of 49 from yesterday.
The number of people hospitalized also continued to increase, with 1,585 hospitalized and 517 in the ICU, which is 11 higher than yesterday but still below the peak.
Bellone was pleased to report that 130 residents have been discharged from the hospital in the last 24 hours.
Bellone urged residents to stay the course, even as the temperature climbs, with social distancing.
Meanwhile, Stony Brook University disclosed some of the vast array of donations to its health care workers, who are on the front lines of the ongoing battle to beat back the infection in a county that has more positive tests for the virus than every other state but New York and New Jersey.