With 20,000 Suffolk County residents testing positive for Coronavirus and 1,642 people in the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19, the pandemic has created a tremendous strain on health care workers, first responders, and on the county’s supply of personal protective equipment.
The latest and strongest need in the county, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters, is gowns.
The county had ordered 25,000 gowns, which were supposed to arrive yesterday. On a follow up call, Bellone learned the gowns were in Allentown, Pennsylvania and were scheduled to arrive April 14, which is not nearly soon enough.
Bellone sent a crew from the Department of Public Works to Pennsylvania to pick up the gowns, which are now expected this afternoon.
Those gowns, however, “will not last long,” especially as the ongoing need for health care services remains high, Bellone said.
The number of fatalities related to complications from COVID-19 climbed another 52 and now stands at 414.
“What is frightening about those numbers is that we know they will continue to rise,” Bellone said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said today he would issue an executive order to bring more funeral directors amid high mortalities in the state.
“This has been a real challenge for funeral directors and the staffs at cemeteries across the county,” Bellone said. Funeral homes are dealing with the “same kind of shortages across the board. That creates issues with the entire system. We are grateful to the governor, who is thinking about these issues and challenges.”
To increase awareness of the ongoing crisis in communities where the infection rate is high, the county recently opened a testing site in Huntington Station. Today, Suffolk also opened sites in Brentwood and Riverhead and is also exploring adding testing facilities at other locations.
The county has added a Spanish language text messaging service with updates on the coronavirus. People who are interested in receiving updates in Spanish can text CovidEspanol to 67283.
Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) directed schools and nonessential businesses to remain close for two more weeks, through April 29th.
New Yorkers can collect an additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, for a total of 39 weeks.
On Wednesday, the Suffolk County Police Department arrested Richard Green, a resident of Mastic Beach, who allegedly broke into four businesses in Patchogue and Center Moriches over the past few months.
“This should serve as a reminder that while the police department is engaged in COVID-19 responses, they are continuing to do everything they have to do to protect the public and public safety in this county,” Bellone said. “If you are thinking this might be a good time to commit a crime, think again. You will be apprehended and arrested.”
In thinking about a return to a more normal future after social distancing and New York Pause ends, Bellone said the county has engaged and formalized a Suffolk Recovery Task Force, which Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman will lead.