Suffolk County Positive Viral Tests Creep Higher
While Suffolk County remains well below the level of positive tests for the country as a whole and for states like Florida and Texas, the percentage of positive tests in the area has crept higher than it’s been in recent weeks.
Among 4,517 tests, 84 people tested positive for the coronavirus, which is a 1.9% positive test rate, The positive tests have been tracking closer to 1 percent for the last several days.
“If you attended a party last weekend on July 4 or a larger gathering, be sensitive to how you are feeling,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his almost daily conference call with reporters. “You may want to reconsider visiting friends and family who are vulnerable.”
Given the large number of tests throughout the country, the wait time to get results has increased to five to 10 days, Bellone said.
Additionally, Saheda Iftikhar, the Deputy Commissioner for Department of Health Services, said the time between exposure and a positive test is usually at least 48 hours. That means a person attending a gathering on a Sunday when he or she might have been exposed to someone with the virus should wait until Wednesday before taking a test, to avoid a likely false negative.
The 84 positive results from the July 12 data likely came from tests administered days or even a week earlier, which means that these tests could indicate any increase due to gatherings around Independence Day.
To be sure, Bellone said he doesn’t put too much stock in any one day’s numbers. Nonetheless, he said the county will remain vigilant about monitoring the infection rate over the next few days.
“Be smart,” Bellone urged. “If you attend a gathering in which social distancing or the guidelines may not be strictly adhered to, be very conscious of any symptoms you may have,” Bellone said.
Bellone also urged people to be responsive to calls from the Department of Health, as contact tracers gather confidential information designed to contain any possible spread of the virus.
The other numbers for residents were encouraging.
The number of residents in the hospital was 40, which is a decline from 54 on Friday. The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds was 14, which is up from 10 from Friday.
Hospital bed occupancy was at 70 percent, while ICU occupancy was at 61 percent.
Hospitals discharged 13 people who had suffered with symptoms related to the virus.
For the last 48 hours, the number of fatalities has been zero. The total number of people who have died from complications related to the coronavirus is 1,993.
Bellone highlighted a financial report from New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, titled “Under Pressure.” The report indicated that, statewide, local sales tax collections declined by 24 percent in April and 32 percent in May.
“Local governments are only beginning to feel the impacts of COVID-19 on their revenue,” Bellone said. Reductions in state aid are still possible, which puts counties cities and less wealthy school districts in an “especially tenuous position.”
Local governments will need to take drastic measures to fill enormous budget gaps. That includes Suffolk County, which may have a deficit as large as $839 million this year.
Separately, as school districts try to figure out how to balance between in-person and remote learning, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued guidelines today designed to provide specific targets.
Schools in districts that have reached Phase 4 of the reopening, which includes Suffolk County and where the infection rate is below 5 percent, can reopen. When the positive testing percentage on a rolling 7-day basis exceeds 9 percent should close, Cuomo advised.
School districts will make their decisions about opening between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7.
The governor also announced a new requirement that people traveling into New York from 19 states with rising rates like Florida, California, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas will have to give the state contact information before leaving the airport. Those who fail to do this will receive a summons and face a $2,000 fine