Tags Posts tagged with "County Executive Steve Bellone"

County Executive Steve Bellone

Cars line up at the Stony Brook coronavirus testing site. Photo by Kyle Barr
The coronavirus continues to take a heavy toll on residents of Suffolk County, a region County Executive Steve Bellone (D) described as being at the “epicenter” of the pandemic in New York.

The county had an increase of 64 deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related fatalities to 263.

At this point, the morgue at the county is up to 70 percent capacity. Bellone is working with other local officials to bring in additional capacity, in case the number of deaths exceeds the capacity. The county is working with New York State to bring in an additional mobile refrigerated trailer.

Suffolk County continues to focus on so-called hotspot areas, where the incidence of infection is higher than in other parts of the area. These areas include Brentwood, Huntington Station, and Central Islip. In these communities, it is “difficult to get the messaging through because of the language barrier. We are communicating in multiple different ways.”

The county is setting up hotspot testing programs, which will offer tests for free. The county will have more information on these programs, which will be operated by HRHCare, in the next few days.

In terms of overall testing, 15,553 people have tested positive for the virus. Bellone said the positive news was that the number of people in intensive care unit beds had dropped to 506 from 546.

“We’ve seen for the first time a drop in the number of people in ICU beds for the county” since the pandemic reached New York, Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.

The county executive said he has been fielding questions about whether the County has plateaued. It is too early to make that determination, he suggested.

The message “is not mission accomplished,” he said. “It is, stay the course,” to prevent a resurgence in the number of cases and increasing demands on emergency services and health care workers.

After dropping as low as 43 on Friday, the number of ICU beds available reached 96 today, with 631 hospital beds currently available in the county.

Additionally, hospitals continue to release patients who have battled the virus. In the last 24 hours, 73 residents have left the hospital.

Bellone thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for delivering an additional 136 ventilators, which have been distributed to hospitals throughout the county.

Finally, the Suffolk County Police Department had 57 sworn members who tested positive for the virus.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin. Flie photo by Alex Petroski

Thousands of masks have come to Suffolk County over the past two days courtesy of the White House, both from purchases and donations.

After U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) put out a tweet asking for help for Suffolk County, where the number of positive diagnosis for COVID-19 continues to climb above 10,000, a member of the President Donald Trump (R) family connected with County Executive Steve Bellone (D). The county executive, who had run out of his supplies of personal protective equipment, purchased 150,000 surgical masks.

On Sunday night,  Trump announced that he would ship 200,000 coveted n95 masks to Suffolk County, which came from a federal procurement collection, said Zeldin.

“For the n95 masks to come in without a charge helps all of those local entities laying out a lot of cash at the moment,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin is continuing to reach out to other resources around the country, hoping to secure hospital gowns, among other equipment. Indeed, Zeldin spoke earlier today with the Ambassador to Iceland, who is “working the phones to see if he can help the county procure gowns.”

The 1st district representative said he believes the timing of his tweet seeking assistance for Suffolk County “connected with Americans who may not even live in New York, but who were feeling the spirit as fellow Americans to do whatever they can.”

As for ventilators, Zeldin indicated that the White House is likely to respond to any requests for additional equipment with a question about the location and use of the 4,000 ventilators the federal government already sent.

“It appears [the ventilators from the federal stock pile] haven’t been deployed yet,” Zeldin said. “If you went back to the White House right now and said, ‘I need another ventilator,’ it would be a fair question to be asked back, ‘Where are the ventilators that we sent you?’”

Zeldin said he understands the plan at the state level to increase the number of ventilators as the state prepares for any sudden increase in demand, adding he wouldn’t expect the state to provide a map of where every ventilator is located,  but he does believe an accounting of the life saving equipment would help the White House respond to any further requests.

Zeldin said putting together the location of ventilators in Suffolk County is, “something that [Bellone’s] office is working proactively on to identify. It appears that they know where every ventilator is in the county. They were working to obtain additional information beyond that and hopefully will yield some additional intelligence that helps in the process.”

Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) again today sharing he is optimistic New York could be hitting the apex of the virus, the number of cases on Long Island continue to grow as testing continues.

As of this morning, Bellone said the number of positive tests in Suffolk County for the virus had climbed to 13,487, which is an increase of over 1,000.

“We’re seeing a big increase in the number of people testing positive,” Bellone said.

The hospitalization rate, however, increased at a much slower pace than it had prior to Sunday as well. The number of people in the hospital with the virus stands at 1,463, which is up 26 patients, with 546 residents in the Intensive Care Unit, an increase of six patients.

“For the second day in a row, we’ve had a modest increase in the number of hospitalizations,” Bellone said “That is a good sign.”

Another positive piece of news, Bellone said, is that 63 people have left the hospital who had Covid-19.

These encouraging signs mean that the social distancing and New York Pause, which Cuomo extended until April 29, are working.

They do not, however, indicate that “we take our foot off the pedal,” Bellone said. “The worst thing is to see positive news and decide we can start adjusting our life back to normal. Then, we would see a rise in cases again and, instead of a plateau, we would go back up. We do not want to see that happen.”

As of today, Suffolk County had 710 hospital beds available, including 65 ICU beds.

The number of people who have died with coronavirus continues to rise. Bellone reported an additional 24 people who have died from complications related to coronavirus, which brings the total to 199. He expects those numbers may be under reported and the county may have crossed above 200 deaths.

Bellone continued to urge people who have recovered from a confirmed case of Covid-19 to donate blood plasma, which is rich in virus-fighting antibodies, to the Red Cross, to the New York Blood Center or to the Mount Sinai health system, which are available online at NYBloodCenter.org or MountSinai.org.

The Suffolk County Police Department continues to respond to calls about residents who are not complying with social distancing the New York Pause. Yesterday, the police department had 24 calls, of which three were non compliant. Once the officers spoke to those who were not compliant, they immediately changed their behavior and the officers didn’t have to issue any tickets.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said some of those who were not complying with the ongoing social distancing rules have been in the hard-to-reach immigrant community. The police department is going out with signage and fliers. This morning,  Hart participated in a radio show with La Fiesta “to make sure we’re communicating.” The police department has also reached out to community leaders to ask for their help.

To reach younger people who may not be complying, the police department has also used social media. Over the weekend,  Hart partnered with school superintendents to do a robocall to ask families to follow the current public health mandates.

As of this morning, 56 sworn officers and six civilians had contracted COVID-19.

Stock photo

Update: This story includes details about 200,000 n95 masks President Trump is delivering tomorrow to Suffolk County. The story also adds a quote from Representative Lee Zeldin.

With the well running dry for personal protective equipment from local resources as the viral pandemic spreads, Suffolk County is receiving much-needed help from President Donald Trump, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1).

After Suffolk County received 150,000 n95 masks Sunday, President Donald Trump (R) said the White House is sending an additional 200,000 masks to the county tomorrow at no cost.

Zeldin, who is a member of the bipartisan Congressman Coronavirus Task Force, had been asking for help to find masks for a county where the number of people infected and dying from the virus continued to climb.

Soon after Zeldin’s request for assistance, Kushner told Zeldin he would like to ensure that Suffolk County receives all the personal protective equipment it will need over the next 30 days.

“We are all in this fight together, and I am encouraged by the Administration’s swift, effective and immediate response to Suffolk Suffolk County has the support of officials at every level of government, Bellone said, with ongoing help from Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and the commitment Zeldin received from Jared Kushner, a senior advisor in the White House and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

“It is a significant thing to know we have that commitment from the White House,” said County Executive Steve Bellone (D) on his daily conference call with reporters.

“I want to thank [Congressman] Zeldin,” Bellone said. “We will continue to work together.”

The Suffolk County Fire Chief’s Association, meanwhile, expressed its ongoing appreciation for the effort and sacrifice of health care workers throughout the county this evening at 7 pm. Throughout the county, Suffolk County fire trucks sounded their sirens in unison to “express their gratitude and support,” Bellone said.

Indeed, the number of positive diagnoses has increased to 12,405 in Suffolk County, which is an increase of 1,035 over the previous 24 hours,.

At the same time, the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus increased to 1,435, which is a rise of 19 over the previous day. The increase is the second consecutive day when the number of hospitalizations has risen by a smaller amount.

“We’re hopeful that is a trend that will continue,” Bellone said. “We hopeful,” but it’s too early to say that is the case. At this point, it’s too early to predict when the surge will reach its peak.

The number of patients in the Intensive Care Unit climbed by 113, which is a “huge jump,” Bellone said, bringing the total in the ICU to 540 people.

Additionally, the number of people who have died with the virus has now climbed to 175

On a positive note, the number of patients with Covid-19 who were released from the hospital increased to 107 over the last day.

In addressing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people wear face coverings when they go out in public, Bellone urged people not to use the N95 surgical masks that the county is reserving for health care workers and others exposed to infected residents regularly as a part of their jobs. Instead, he suggested that people use cloth coverings.

On his facebook page and social media sites, Bellone is sharing ways residents can make their own masks, which can include wrapping a tee shirt around their heads.

The county executive said he would be “wearing one when I am out in public. If I’m out anymore and I haven’t been going to the store much, I will wear a face covering in alignment with guidance from the CDC. We are modeling what we are asking county residents to do.”

Separately, the county is revising the limitations for cultural and artistic grants. Those organizations that have received those grants can use them to fund payroll and offer virtual programming. Bellone said the county “understands that may be a necessity for a while.”

Stock Photo

Suffolk County lost 28 more residents to the coronavirus, bringing the total in the county to 124, according to County Executive Steve Bellone (D). The residents who succumbed to the disease Covid-19 ranged in age from their mid 30’s to their mid 90’s.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences,” said Bellone on his daily conference call with reporters. “We pray for all those who are in the hospital and are struggling without family and loved ones to be there for them.”

Bellone reminded residents that the reason for social distancing rules and for the pause in non essential businesses is to prevent the spread of the disease and to save lives.

Bellone also reported that the county has given out over 1.7 million pieces of personal protective equipment, which has become a critical need for health care workers and first responders who help the public. At this point, the county has emptied its entire cache of supplies and is working to continue to get donations and to purchase personal protective equipment from around the world.

Bellone thanks the Long Island Chinese American Association for donating 20,000 ear loop masks. The county will “make sure they get to emergency personnel and to places that need them.”

The county executive suggested several ways residents could contribute to the effort to combat the virus and the effects it has had on the community.

People who have recovered from Covid-19 can become a part of the solution for others who are battling against the virus. Anyone who has had a confirmed case of the disease and has recovered can donate plasma as a part of a treatment regime. Their antibodies, which helped them fight off the virus, could also prove effective in the molecular battle others are fighting.

Bellone encouraged everyone who has had the virus and recovered to reach out to the red cross, at redcrossblood.org to see if they are eligible to donate life-saving plasma.

Additionally, people can provide financial support to organizations that work tirelessly to feed people throughout Long Island by donating to Long Island Harvest and Long Island Cares at LIHarvest.org and LICares.org.

As for the number of cases of coronavirus, Suffolk County now has 11,370 people with the virus. That’s an increase of 1,216 people over a 24 hour period.

The number of people hospitalized increased by 118, which is “a little bit of good news,” Bellone said. “That is a lower number than we’ve seen in the last couple of days.”

Health care workers throughout the county are currently caring for 427 patients in Intensive Care Units, which is up 26 from yesterday. The number of available ICU beds, however, climbed to 72, which is up from 43 the day before.

Also on the positive side, 96 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 left the hospital over the last day.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people to wear masks when they go out in public, Bellone said the Suffolk County Police Department has “had conversations” about officers wearing masks, but has not yet reached a decision on that.

Image from CDC

A total of 93 confirmed coronavirus patients have been released from hospitals in Suffolk as County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said they have been cleared to go home. Meanwhile, however, Suffolk is trying to meet the hard task of staying ahead in the number of beds available before the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reaches its apex. 

Bellone said there are 648 hospital beds and 43 Intensive Care Unit beds available, and Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County’s health commissioner, said those were spread out among hospitals, though even still he admitted, “that’s not a lot of beds.”

As counties all across New York fight to stay ahead of the number of patients, all have seen a significant lack of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and gowns. Ventilators, which can be lifesaving to critically ill patients, have also been in extreme short supply. Stony Brook University Hospital, for instance, has been looking to detail plans and designs that could put two patients on a single ventilator at a time. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday morning he would be signing an executive order allowing the National Guard to go to facilities that are not currently using equipment like ventilators and bring them to places that need them.

“I understand they don’t want to give up their ventilators … the theory is if the government gets them they will never get that back, I understand that, but I don’t have an option,” Cuomo said. 

In that same press conference, the governor named several locations as COVID-19 “hotspots,” which included Stony Brook University Hospital. 

Cuomo added the city could start running out of ventilators by next week.

While Suffolk County has exhausted “all” its PPE equipment for health care facilities and has hosted equipment donation drives, Bellone said they have increasingly called on companies who were interested to retool any kind of production for purpose of making medical equipment. The first of these companies, Hauppauge-based 71 Visuals, a sign making company, has retooled its facility to making face shields for health care workers. So far the county has purchased 25,000 of said face shields. 

“When we can have local manufacturers, we can purchase which can be utilized in this fight to save lives,” Bellone said.

The county executive has called on any other company who is considering retooling their operations to reach out to them, saying those businesses will be worked with and compensated for their efforts.

The number of deaths due to the coronavirus continues to rise. There are now 10,149 confirmed cases, according to the county’s data tracking website. This past day saw nine new deaths, bringing the total fatalities in Suffolk to 93. 

Yesterday, The New York Times reported the navy ship USNS Comfort, which is docked inside New York Harbor, is not accepting coronavirus patients, instead being used as a place for overflow, non-COVID related patients. The vast majority of its 1,000 beds are currently unused, especially since non-coronavirus related sickness and injuries has severely decreased thanks to current stay-at-home orders.

Bellone criticized the fact the ship was not being used to field the flood of new daily coronavirus patients.

“Patients need to go where there is space available to help save lives,” Bellone said.

Stock photo

Suffolk County has been managing to keep the number of beds available above the rate of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus pandemic, though cases continue to climb.

In his daily call with reporters April 2, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the number of cases in Suffolk County has breached 8,927, climbing well over 1,000 by yesterday’s count. This has been attributed to the greater amount of testing being done, with over 21,000 being completed to date in Suffolk alone.

Meanwhile, the county has been trying to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order to increase the number of available hospital beds by at least 50 percent, with the goal of reaching 100 percent increase. Bellone said Suffolk has increased its count of hospital beds to 2,831 beds countywide, with 438 Intensive Care Unit beds also available for the most severe cases. Currently, 472 hospital beds and 64 are vacant and available.

This is also while Cuomo said in this morning’s briefing he is becoming even more concerned with the limited number of ventilators for use during the crisis, now being down to about 2,200.

Healthcare workers on the front lines have struggled to deal with the number of cases now coming into hospitals. Bellone said the surge is still building, but the voices of health care workers are being heard.

“They’re operating in an incredibly difficult, stressful traumatic environment in which they are working overtime, double shifts, day after day after day, in a struggle to save peoples’ lives” Bellone said. “It is emotional, it is stressful and it is extraordinarily difficult.”

The number of deaths increased by 15 from the previous day. All had underlying health conditions. This includes eight individuals in their 80s, four in their 70s, and one in their 40s and 50s. One individual in his 60s died while in mandatory isolation at a local nursing home.

Currently, there are 1,323 cases in Brookhaven, 435 in Smithtown and 1,390 in Huntington townships. While close to 9,000 total cases are growing in Suffolk, New York State currently totals at more than 92,000.

The economic impact has also been felt far and wide, and Bellone said he is continuing to build out what the county can internally do to help businesses separately from the federal government’s response. So far, the county has been keeping a survey of businesses through their recently created Business Response Unit, and as of March 31, there were over 1,200 responses to said survey from businesses that employ more than 13,000 individuals, with over 7,000 responding they had lost their jobs or employment. The overall New York number, however, is much more staggering, with approximately 6.6 million filing for unemployment, a number not seen since the 1981 recession.

“Particularly our downtowns are facing tremendous hardships, and we will need a targeted effort there,” Bellone said. 

He added while some businesses have maintained some employees, “without assistance, they will not be able to keep that up much longer.”

The County Executive said he has spoken with financial institutions, who will be handling the disbursement of loans via the CARES Act, the federal financial assistance bill that promises loans to businesses to help keep people employed. The rollout of that has not been foolproof, however, with the federal Small Business Administration telling business owners they would need to reapply for their loans at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

Anybody who previously applied via email, fax or snail mail will have to reapply.

Bellone said any difficulties that said financial institutions may have must be overcome if the region is to see any kind of recovery by the time the crisis begins to ebb. 

“The public wasn’t expecting this, we weren’t expecting this, but we have to deal with it,” he said. “We were on call with financial institutions and continue to convene with them.”

Dr. Bettina Fries and her neighbor Agjah Libohova holding new face shields that will soon be put into the PPE pipeline at Stony Brook Medicine and many metro area hospitals. Photo from SBU

By Kyle Barr and David Luces

In other years, the first day of April dawning would have been a time for celebration and maybe a few pranks. This year, during the coronavirus crisis, not many were up for such jubilation. 

In a daily call with reporters, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said as of today there were now 69 individual deaths from COVID-19 in Suffolk County. 25 of those individuals died in the past 48 hours and 16 in the past day. The vast majority of deaths were of people who had underlying medical issues.

“We are going to get through this but it is going to get worse before it gets better,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “We all have the power to make this better by practicing social distancing. If you feel sick stay home.”
The total for all of New York was even more staggering, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announcing the morning of April 1 nearly 400 people have died in New York State in the span of 24 hours. 

Cuomo compared it to the movie “Groundhog Day,” where the main character keeps experiences the same day over and over.

“When does it end? how does it end? I don’t know,” he said during his morning press briefing.

In Suffolk, the current number of people confirmed with the virus is 7,605. Currently over 25,000 have been tested, including 5,400 from the Stony Brook site in the South P lot as of Wednesday morning, Bellone said. 

The County Executive also emphasized the 2020 Census, saying as we’re in the midst of this battle, we need to recognize the economic human service impacts. 

“If we don’t do what we need to do we will be experiencing shortfalls in aid for the next 10 years,” Bellone said. “We have to make sure we’re getting those census documents filled out.” 

The county executive added Child Protective Services continues to do house visits and they have done as many interviews as they can telephonically.

“The government does not close — we are here to deal with crises,” he said. “CPS is one of those they are continuing to operate.”

Stony Brook University Begins Drug Trials to Combat Coronavirus

In a COVID-19 briefing update, Stony Brook Medicine officials said that the hospital has begun a number of clinical trials designed to identify effective therapies for critically ill patients.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed to treat two other RNA viruses, Ebola and Marburg, has been administered to two patients with severe coronavirus. The clinical trials on the drug are led by Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. Officials said the drug has appeared to be effective in treating COVID-19 in both China and Washington State. 

Doctors will also be involved in a Regeneron-sponsored clinical trial on Sarilumab (Kevzara), a monoclonal antibody which blocks binding of interleukin-6 to its receptor. Sarilumab is already FDA approved for the treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and more recently for the cytokine storm that accompanies the use of CAR-T cells for acute leukemia. The first Regeneron patient was recruited on March 30. 

Stony Brook Medicine will soon be launching a clinical trial of donated, post-convalescent plasma from COVID-19 patients “very soon,” based on the level of antibody titers to SARS-CoV2 in the donor plasma. Serum or plasma therapy for infectious diseases dates to the 1890s, when serum made from immunized animals provided the first effective treatment for Clostridium tetani and Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

In addition, SBU professor Lily Mujica-Parodi has been part of a national effort to employ a wearable technology device called Oura to collect sufficient physiological data, and use deep learning algorithms to predict the onset of SARS-CoV2 infection. This type of device would be most productive and predictive in hospitals where there is a large number of healthcare workers in high-risk-for-infection roles. 

 LI Company to Begin New Face Shield Production

Clear-Vu Lighting, a Central Islip-based design company, will begin manufacturing an order of 20,000 new face shields that will be deployed to Stony Brook University Hospital. Mass production  is expected to start by early April. Clear-Vu Lighting is gearing up with an expectation to produce 40,000 faceshields per day and approximately 1.2 million per month. Production of face shields to Stony Brook will include supplies for Stony Brook University Hospital and all affiliated hospitals on Long Island. 

Preventing a Possible Shortage of Ventilators

Due to the projections of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stony Brook University Hospital is suggesting it may be required to use a single ventilator for up to two patients in case there is a shortage once the number of patients is at its peak. In a Stony Brook Medicine research laboratory, medical professionals are working on a solution to ventilating multiple patients with one ventilator. Putting two patients on one ventilator requires matching patients with similar characteristics, such as sex, height, age and lung sizes, to avoid one patient being over ventilated and the other being under ventilated.

Stony Brook said researchers and doctors are examining the forces that cause unequal distribution of lung volumes and airway pressures, while using complex test models of diseased lungs. With this research, doctors are able to vary airway resistance and compliance and mimic acute respiratory distress syndrome-like conditions, which allows to test the use of inline valves and resistance devices to solve these problems. 

Addressing the Growing Need for Additional Staff

To address potential staff shortfalls, the medical school is preparing to allow graduating students to volunteer on the front lines of the epidemic while awaiting the eventual surge of patients.

The Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University is allowing senior medical students to graduate in early April so they can begin their professional career as a physician at Stony Brook University Hospital. They will be able to work under the supervision of residents, fellows and attending physicians to address the growing number and complexity of patients being admitted to our hospital, precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The graduates would then proceed to begin their residencies July 1.

 

Stock photo

Suffolk County continues its race against time to have enough hospital beds, medical equipment and health care providers as the county and New York State move closer each day to the ongoing surge in demand.

As of today, the county had tested close to 16,000 people, with 5,791 people testing positive for the coronavirus Covid-19. Close to a third of the people have received their tests at the Stony Brook University mobile testing site.

At the same time, the number of hospitalizations continues to climb. Suffolk County had 601 hospitalizations, which is up from 409 two days ago. The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit climbed by to 181, up 19 from the day before.

Dr. Gregson Pigott, the commissioner of the Department of Health Services, said on the call that the test results take anywhere from two to three days, up to five to seven days.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) reiterated Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) plea for additional health care workers, who will be needed as the number of cases climbs.

“The governor put out a call for help for people across the country where they are not seeing the kind of cases we have in New York,” Bellone said. The state and the county would like people to “come and volunteer and join in the effort. In return, New York, as we have been time and again, will be there for other parts of the country to help them.”

Bellone said he has been speaking to hospitals and executives who are on the front lines and that help is “needed, they are doing heroic work.”

The County Executive confirmed four additional deaths, with three of the residents ranging in age from the 40’s to the 90’s. The family of the fourth victim hadn’t yet been notified, so Bellone couldn’t provide specific details. The total number of deaths in Suffolk County stands at 44.

The Suffolk County Police Department reported 166 cases where they received calls about violations of social distancing or Cuomo’s New York Pause efforts. The department found 16 violations and hasn’t issued a citation yet in connection with violators.

“Even when somebody may be out of compliance, there is immediate voluntary compliance,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.

The police department also has seen an increase in the number of people infected with the virus. As of today, 29 officers and three civilians had tested positive.

Stock photo

The numbers of people infected and affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to climb.

This afternoon, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), who himself was finally out of a two-week home quarantine, reported a climb of 753 in the number of people who have tested positive for the virus. The total number stands at 4,138 people, which is more than the entire country of Australia, according to a tracking site at Johns Hopkins University.

The virus also continues to affect the Suffolk County Police Department, with 23 officers testing positive.

Suffolk County health care providers continue to test more residents, as over 12,000 people have been screened. Of those, Stony Brook University’s mobile testing site has administered about 5,000 tests.

“Our major concern and focus has been on the vulnerable population,” Bellone said on his daily media call with reporters. Indeed, 16 percent of the positive tests were among people who were over 65 years old.

Hospitalizations also continued to climb. The number of people in hospitals throughout the county stood at 409, which includes 139 in the Intensive Care Unit.

For the 10th consecutive day, Bellone reported additional fatalities associated with the virus. Seven people died who had the virus, bringing the total to 37 for the county. Those who passed away were: a man in his 60’s who died in his home on March 24, a woman in her 90’s who died at Good Samaritan Hospital March 26, a man in his 70’s who died at Long Island Community Hospital on March 22, a man in his 50’s, who died at St. Catherine’s Hospital March 23, a man in his 60’s who died at Southampton Hospital yesterday, a woman in her 90’s who died at Eastern Long Island Hospital, and a man in his 90’s who died at Mather Hospital on March 26. Underlying medical conditions continue to contribute to most of the deaths.

The police have responded to 140 reports of violations of social distancing. In the last day, there were 28 new reports and the officers found that four of the businesses were non compliant. That includes a vape shop, a hair salon, and a house party.

“All of the individuals involved complied voluntarily when the police and county officers were there,” Bellone said.

Suffolk County Police commissioner Geraldine Hart alongside Steve Bellone. TBR News Media file photo

Without the usual fanfare, 60 cadets graduated from the police academy today and have become sworn members of the Suffolk County Police Department.

The officers, which include six people who are fluent in Spanish, will be a part of a group called Together Ensuring Compliance, or TEC, according to police officials. They will be “visible on the street” and will have increased foot patrols and will be in parks and shopping centers to ensure that businesses that are supposed to be closed, while making sure they educate the population about maintaining social distancing. Geraldine Hart, the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department, made the announcement on County Executive Steve Bellone’s (D) daily call with reporters.

At the same time, Bellone announced the launch of the Suffolk Childcare Consortium, which is a free childcare program for first responders, medical professionals transit workers and, where space permits, other essential workers. The program will be open Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and enrollment for those battling the coronavirus outbreak will be on a first come, first served basis and will be limited based on space and staff.

Residents with questions about he consortium should call 311.

The new childcare program is available to the following districts:
  • Babylon School District — Babylon Elementary School
  • Commack School District — Sawmill Intermediate School
  • Connetquot School District – Cherokee Street Elementary School
  • Deer Park School District – John F. Kennedy Intermediate School  
  • Harborfields School Districts – Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School
  • Hauppauge School District — Pines Elementary School
  • Huntington School District — Jefferson Primary School
  • Lindenhurst School District — Albany Avenue Elementary School
  • Middle Country School District – Jericho Elementary School
  • Miller Place School District — Andrew Muller Primary School
  • Northport School District — Pulaski Road Elementary School
  • Sachem School District– Nokomis School Elementary School

To qualify for the program, children must be between pre-K and sixth grade. Students in the program can work on their school’s long distance learning requirements during the day. The program is run by SCOPE education services and will have trained childcare. The staff will check on the health of the children regularly. Anyone with a fever or who demonstrates any sign of illness will not be allowed in the program.

Parents can register their children through www.scopeonline.us.

Meanwhile, the numbers of cases of the virus, hospitalization for it, and fatalities associated with it continues to climb. There are 3,385 cases, which is up by 650 in the last 24 hours. As of this morning, there were also 331 hospitalizations of people with the virus, with 119 in the Intensive Care Unit.

For the ninth straight day, Bellone reported fatalities connected with the virus. Eight people, all of whom had underlying medical condition, passed away. Those who died were: a man in his 80’s at Stony Brook Hospital, a woman in her 80’s at Huntington Hospital, a woman in her 90’s at St. Catherine’s hospital, a man in his late 40’s at LIJ, a woman in her 80’s at Huntington Hospital, a woman in her 80’s at Huntington Hospital this morning, a man in his 60’s at Stony Brook University Hospital, and a woman in her 80’s at Good Samaritan Hospital.

The total number of people who have died from coronavirus related issues in the county is now 30.

Bellone shared his thoughts and prayers with the families.

“This drives home the point of why we have to do this, why all of us have an important role to play in helping to reduce that number,” Bellone said. “Our actions will determine how high that number goes.”

The county executive said the governor’s office, which requires the closure of non essential businesses, provided new guidance on construction work. He said non-essential construction must now cease. Everything except emergency construction, like bridges and transit and hospitals or that protects the health and safety, will stop.