Suffolk Virus Hospitalizations Rise for 2nd Straight Day, Raising Concerns for Reopening
Despite the worrisome sign that net hospitalizations rose for a second straight day in Suffolk County, the area has still met one of the qualifications for a phased reopening.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that hospitals in an area have a three-day moving average where the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 declines.
Over the last day, the number of hospitalizations from the coronavirus rose by 18, after inching up by four on Monday, bringing the total to 835 people. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday had declined by 38, which means the three day moving average was a decline of over five people.
“The fact that we’ve had two days in a row of increasing hospitalizations is definitely something I’m concerned about,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. He doesn’t “want to see that trend continuing.”
For the second consecutive day as well, the number of people who were discharged from the hospital increased at a slower pace than it had in the last few weeks, with 37 people heading home to continue their recovery.
“Is this an indication that the people that are in the hospitals, which would be common sense, are people who are more sick?” Bellone said. He suggested that would be “logical,” although he doesn’t have any specific indication behind the numbers about why the net hospitalizations have climbed amid conspicuously lower discharges.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has discussed a phased reopening of the state on May 15, when New York Pause ends, the decision of when to open different regions will depend on the data from those area. Upstate, for example, hasn’t been hit as hard as downstate areas like Nassau and Suffolk County.
“We are doing the work to prepare for that reopening downstate,” Bellone said. While the county executive is hopeful Suffolk County could open as soon as possible, he said the county would have to hit a range of metrics to make that possible.
These measures include a 70 percent or lower use of hospital beds, which is about where the county stands now. That, however, does not include elective surgeries, which, once they start picking up again, will require some hospital bed usage.
Additionally, the number of new hospitalizations in Suffolk County will need to be 30 or lower based on a three-day rolling average. Over the last 24 hours, the number of new hospitalizations from COVID-19 was 50.
“We’re not there yet,” Bellone said.
Amid ongoing testing throughout the county, including in seven hotspot testing sites, the number of new positive tests climbed to 715 to 38,252. The percentage of positive tests is 34.6 percent.
On the positive side, the number of people in the Intensive Care Unit declined by seven, as the number of intubations also fell.
“That’s a very good sign,” Bellone said.
The number of people who have died from complications related to coronavirus climbed by 23, bringing the total to 1,296.
“We know the terrible grief and tragedies that this virus has wrought upon our community,” Bellone said, as residents “haven’t been able to grieve in the way we are accustomed to as a community.”
The American Red Cross is providing crisis counselors who can work with families, supplying emotional and spiritual support.
Residents who would like to receive confidential help can log in to www.redcross.org/
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the police would use the information to track the location of positive cases to see if there are hotspots within the department.