Tags Posts tagged with "Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone"

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

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On Father’s Day, which also coincides with the start of summer, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) exuded optimism about the ongoing recovery from COVID-19, which created tremendous strain on the health care system and led to a lockdown that crippled the economy amid shuttered businesses.

“I’m happy to report for the first time since March 22 that we are below 100 people hospitalized with COVID-19,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “That is a real milestone for us.”

Indeed, the number of people hospitalized fell by eight to 98 through the 24 hours ending on June 19. At the same time, the number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds has declined by 10 to 21.

“We have gone up this mountain, we have seen this surge occur, we have come down on the other side,” Bellone said. “As we begin summer now, we are in a far, far different place than we were.”

An additional 10 people were discharged from the hospital over the last day.

The number of people who tested positive for the virus was higher than in recent days, with 64 people testing positive for the coronavirus. That number had been tracking in the 40s. The percentage of positive tests rose above one percent, climbing to 1.2 percent.

While this remains a closely watched number, Bellone said he wasn’t particularly concerned about an increase of that size on a single day.

The number of people who have the antibody to the virus stands at 18,021.

For the third day in a row, one person died from complications related to the coronavirus. The total number who have died in Suffolk County since the pandemic began is 1,964.

Amid a report in the New York Times that contact tracers in New York City have only received information from 35 percent of people who tested positive for the virus about their interactions prior to their positive test, Bellone said he remains focused on the fall for any potential resurgence in the virus.

“Right now, we do have this opportunity to really hone and get down everything we need with contact tracing,” Bellone said. The focus is on getting the system right and ensuring that it works “better and better every day.”

He anticipates the contact tracing effort will include tweaks over the next few months.

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Even as public health information in other areas of the country are climbing at alarming rates, threatening to create a strain on health care on other health care systems that is all too familiar to Long Islanders, the COVID-19-related numbers have remained low enough to keep Suffolk County on track for a Phase Three reopening this Wednesday.

Phase Three will allow for indoor dining at restaurants, for groups of about 30 to convene and for more personal care businesses, like massage parlors and spas, to reopen with limitations on capacity, occupancy and services.

The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus was 44, which brings the total to 40,908. The percentage of people testing positive was at 1 percent.

The number of people who have tested positive for the antibody is 17,833.

The number of people afflicted with COVID-19 in the hospital fell by four to 106. The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit increased by two to 31.

For the second day in a row, one person died from complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,963.

People brought images of George Floyd to a Port Jefferson protest June 18. That protest was originally meant for June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth. Photo by Drew Biondo

As the country grapples with various levels of implicit bias in the weeks after Minneapolis resident George Floyd was killed by a white police officer, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) signed two executive orders June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth.

More than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation while the country was in the throes of the Civil War, slaves in Texas were among the last to learn June 19, 1865, that they, too, were free.

Bellone signed one executive order that mandates the same kind of implicit bias training members of the Suffolk County Police Department have received since 2018 for every county employee before June 19 of 2021.

Additionally, Bellone signed an order that directs the county’s Office of Minority Affairs to prepare an annual observance of this important day in American history next year. The celebration could include festivals, parades, symposiums and musical events. The day will focus on the achievements of African Americans. The office will solicit input from the community and stakeholders to help plan these events.

As part of the outreach, the county executive’s office will also reach out to schools.

“The education piece is incredibly important,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. The effort is designed to ensure that students have a broader understanding of American history and about the progress the country is making and needs to make.

Viral Numbers

The number of residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last day was 54. That brings the total to 40,864. The positive tests continue to represent less than one percent of the total tests given by the county.

The number of hospitalizations, meanwhile, broke below a holding pattern for the last week. The number of residents hospitalized with the coronavirus fell by 15 to 110. The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit with the virus fell by six to 29.

An additional 21 people were discharged from hospitals in the county.

The number of people who have died from complications related to COVID19 increased by one to 1,962 over the last day.

Long Island Ducks

The Long Island Ducks recently announced a 2020 schedule that included 70 games between mid July and September.

Bellone endorsed the idea and suggested that he thought it would be safe, with the proper precautions, given that the activity is outdoors and the Ducks are planning to have games played in front of a stadium cut to one quarter capacity.

“We are very hopeful that in phase 4, we will see the Long Island Ducks back and out on the field,” Bellone said. “We want to see the Ducks defend their title.”

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Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order earlier today that will allow the state’s enforcement efforts to increase for businesses that aren’t following social distancing guidelines.

The state liquor authority can immediately suspend a business’s liquor license for violating rules. Bars and restaurants are not only responsible for ensuring these social distancing requirements inside their establishments, but are also required to enforce the area immediately outside their location, which includes the sidewalk and any expansion of their business into the street.

“Some of what we saw were people mingling and not seated,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. The county sent notifications from the Department of Health reminding the businesses of the guidance.

“We don’t want to be overly aggressive with businesses struggling to get back on their feet,” Bellone said, although he suggested that “egregious violations” have an appropriate mechanism in place to allow authorities to respond immediately.

Viral Numbers

The data from the county regarding the spread of the virus continues to be positive as Suffolk entered the second week of its Phase Two reopening.

An additional 40 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total who have tested positive since the pandemic reached Long Island to 40,810. The rate of positive tests was 0.7 percent, which is well below the positive testing rate during the worst of the pandemic, which was above 30 percent.

Hospitalizations continue to hover around the same level, climbing one day and then falling the next. In the 24 hours ending June 16, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 125, which is a decline of four. That follows an increase from the day before of eight.

The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit with the virus remained the same, at 35.

An additional 15 people were discharged from the hospital in the last day.

The number of people who died from complications related to COVID-19 was three. Coronavirus has taken the lives of 1,961 residents of Suffolk County.

Hospital bed occupancy was at 66 percent, while the percent of ICU beds was at 62.

Earlier this week, the governor announced that hospital patients could receive visitors.

Stony Brook University Hospital received the updated guidelines to expand visitation with protocols for specific safety measures, health screenings and time limited visits, according to a Stony Brook Medicine official.

“We are currently reviewing these guidelines so that we can establish a safe process of visitation for our patients and their families while continuing to maintain a safe environment,” the SB official explained in an email. “We know visitors and loved ones play an essential role in the healing and recovery process of our patients and we look forward to welcoming them once again.”

The official didn’t indicate when the hospital might begin allowing visitors.

Summer Movies

At this point, the kick off to the summer film series at Smith Point County Park on Saturday, June 20 has sold out for the free showing of “Jaws” at 8:30 p.m. The date of the showing marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the film in which Richard Dreyfuss, playing Matt Hooper, proclaimed, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” when the shark attacked.

If those who have booked tickets do not arrive by 8:10 p.m., other residents can take their place, Bellone said.

The next movie in the summer film series is “Goonies,” which will be on June 24. Residents who would like to see the film can go to the web site suffolkcountyny.gov/driveinmovies to book their free tickets.

Other films on tap during the series include “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Elf”, and Harry Potter, although Bellone didn’t specify which of the eight films will be featured.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. File photo by Alex Petroski

As Suffolk County emerges from a public health crisis that claimed the lives of close to 2,000 residents and triggered an economic collapse, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) has renewed his request for financial aid from the federal government.

Following a municipal committee that laid out an economic shortfall for this year of over $800 million, the county’s nonpartisan Budget Review Office validated the enormous financial hole that threatens public health, public safety and social services.

“Our immediate need right now is for $1 billion in federal relief,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “That won’t solve all our issues. We are still going to need to make some tough choices,” which  he said includes streamlining processes and potentially cuts in other areas.

Bellone urged the federal government, which originally urged the lockdown to save lives, to prevent essential employees from not only risking their lives and the lives of their families by working during the pandemic, but then also from having to help foot the bill for these unprecedented efforts.

“What we’re asking Washington to do is to give us back a fraction of what we send every year,” Bellone said. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Bellone felt confident that a bipartisan group of federal government representatives recognized the need for financial help from the government.

The budget review office provided a list of mitigation measures that could include laying people off, lagging in payrolls, raising an energy or sales tax and amortizing pensions, all of which would cause additional suffering for first responders, essential employees and county residents.

Even putting all those items together, however, would only add up to $150 million, which is well short of the financial need the county has over the next three months when the next budget is due.

Bellone said the county was considering cuts in all areas, which could include the Suffolk County Police Department.

Viral Numbers

The viral numbers continue to remain stable and is a considerably better daily tally than many other counties and states which have seen a surge in new cases and hospitalizations.

In Suffolk County, the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 was 32, which brings the total to 40,770. The positive tests continue to represent below 1 percent of the overall tests from the county each day.

These numbers remain low over a week after many of the 100 protests over the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, whose death triggered sweeping requests around the world for reform of police tactics.

“I feel very comfortable saying that [the low number of positive tests] is evidence that the outdoor environment is a very safe environment with the caveat that I’m not a doctor,” Bellone said. “When you’ve had this many protestors wearing face coverings and not seeing a spike in cases is real strong evidence about how safe the outdoor environment is.”

The number of people hospitalized increased by eight to 129, which reflects a continuing holding pattern in that figure around 125.

The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit declined by two to 35.

Hospital occupancy remained well below health care metrics. The occupancy of hospital beds was at 64 percent, while the occupancy of ICU beds was at 60 percent.

The number of people discharged from the hospital in the last day was 10.

Meanwhile, one person died from complications related to COVID-19 in the last day. The total number of deaths for Suffolk County now stands at 1,958.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) today announced that residents in hospitals could have visitors starting today and those in group homes could have visitors starting on Friday.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) applauded the decisions, which were based on the lower rates of positive test and the declining strain on the health care system.

“There has been a lot of anguish and turmoil and pain throughout this whole COVID-19 crisis,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “One of the biggest areas we have seen this in is the inability to be with loved ones when they are ill or sick or to visit loved ones in group homes.”

Bellone called the decision a “big step forward” for numerous families.

Separately, the county executive said residents could reserve a spot at the Smith Point County Park this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. for a free showing of “Jaws” on the 45th anniversary of the classic horror film.

Interested residents can reserve a spot at suffolkcountyny.gov/driveinmovies. Space is limited and tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As for the numbers, the number of new infections was 46, which is about a 1 percent positive rate among those tested. The total number of people who have had a positive COVID-19 test has reached 40,738.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus declined by six to 121, while the number of people in the Intensive Care Unit remained the same, at 38.

Meanwhile, an additional two people died from complications related to COVID-19. The total number of people in Suffolk County who have died from the virus is 1,957.

The number of people who have left the hospital in the last 24 hours was eight.

Since the start of Phase Two last Wednesday, the Suffolk County Police Department has received 122 complaints and found four violations of social distancing or face covering violations. The police did not issue any tickets.

The number of sworn officers who have tested positive for the virus is 88, which is an increase of one over the last six weeks. At this point, six officers are still out sick with the virus.

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In the past 24 hours, the number of Suffolk County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 was 33, which is well below the county’s goal of remaining below 100.

At the same time, the percentage of positive tests was below 1 percent, which is also an encouraging sign, particularly for a county that has had close to 100 protests in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

The total number of positive tests in the county since the beginning of the pandemic is now 40,692.

Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remained fairly stable. The number in the hospital increased by two to 127, while the number in Intensive Care Unit beds declined by two to 38 in the 24 hour period ending on June 13th.

Bed capacity also remained below the 70 percent metric, with overall hospital bed use at 64 percent and ICU bed occupancy at 56 percent.

An additional 12 people left the hospital in the last day.

The number of people who have died from complications related to COVID-19 climbed to seven, with the total number who have died now at 1,955.

The number who have died from the virus represents a “spike” compared to the last few days, said County Executive Steve Bellone (D) on his daily conference call with reporters. Indeed, on Friday, the county reported its first day without a death from COVID-19 since mid-March.

“We’ll see moving forward” whether the numbers of people felled by the virus stay low or climb from days when Bellone has reported deaths of 0, one and two people over the last week.

Gregson Pigottt, the Suffolk County Health Commissioner, said people who have been in the ICU on a ventilator sometimes struggle to pull through after a few weeks.

“It’s hard to predict when you’re in the hospital,” Pigott said on the call.

Separately, the county hopes to enter Phase Three of the reopening by next Wednesday, June 24, at the latest.

At that point, restaurants could reopen at 50 percent capacity. Such a reopening would help boost an economy residents hopes gets back on track after the shutdown caused by the virus.

“Many people are unemployed,” Bellone said. “Getting this industry back is an important thing. We need to do it safely.”

Amid concerns Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) expressed yesterday about violations of social distancing and face coverings in Manhattan and the Hamptons, Bellone said the Suffolk County Police Department has remained in touch with law enforcement in the East End.

At the same time, the Health Department is sending a reminder about the guidelines with respect to the state order to restaurants so they are fully aware of the health restrictions in place.

The governor “spoke about the potential that violations could result in suspension or revocation of a business’s liquor license,” Bellone said. “Nobody wants to see that happen. We want to see all these businesses open up again and get them back on their feet.”

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Frustrated with large crowds congregating outside restaurants and bars in Manhattan and the Hamptons, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned that these areas could face greater restrictions while businesses could be fined or could lose their state-approved liquor licenses.

People have made over 25,000 complaints to the state about a lack of social distancing and limited face coverings in Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said he hadn’t heard of any increase in reports of noncompliance in the Hamptons and emphasized the different states of reopening between the two regions.

“The Hamptons are in a little bit of a different situation than Manhattan,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “We are in Phase,” in which restaurants can offer outdoor dining, while Manhattan just entered the first phase of reopening, which doesn’t include such outdoor dining accommodations.

The Suffolk County Police Department has been educating businesses that weren’t open before throughout the area about the rules they have to follow.

“Businesses are happy to reopen and they want to follow the rules,” Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said on the call. “They don’t want the rollback, either. We are working collaboratively and will be in touch with East End chiefs” to assist them in ensuring any compliance.

Bellone reiterated that he is “confident we have been doing compliance and enforcement from the beginning.”

The numbers related to COVID-19 for Suffolk County continue to remain positive.

Over the last day, 44 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 4,243. Those numbers continue to hover on a daily basis below the targeted 100 for the county.

While he continues to monitor the number of daily positive results closely, Bellone said he believes that the protests didn’t cause a spread of the virus if the new infections remain at this level through the middle of the week.

Being outside and wearing face coverings helps reduce the transmission of the virus.

Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remained the same through the day ending on June 12 at 125. The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds rose by one to 40.

Hospital bed capacity remains below targets. An additional 16 people were discharged from the hospital in the last day.

The number of people who died from complications related to the virus increased by one to 1,948.

Protesters rallied in Rocky Point Friday, June 12 in calling for an end to police brutality, and even to a complete restructuring of law enforcement. Photo by Kyle Barr

As the days pass between near daily protests related to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a former police officer charged with his murder, the number of positive tests for COVID-19 remains at low levels.

In the last day, the number of positive tests was 56 as the county tested 5,879 people for a 1 percent rate for positive tests.

“My guess is that you’re not going to see a spike [in positive tests for the virus] as a result of the lack of social distancing in protests,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. “I do believe if you have those face coverings on outdoors, that is very safe.”

After the county entered Phase Two of its reopening this past Wednesday, Bellone hopes to expedite the process of moving to Phase Three.

“We thought the most relevant comparison would be to communities upstate where there are dense populations around the cities, to see whether they had impacts in Phase TWo and compare those and provide that information,” Bellone said. Based on what he has seen from the numbers in other areas, he doesn’t see any cautionary signs elsewhere.

As for the viral numbers in the county, Bellone said they continue to move in a favorable direction.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 declined by nine in the day ending on June 11, bringing the total to 125. The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit also declined, with two people leaving the ICU, bringing that total to 39.

Bed capacity remains comfortably below targeted levels, with 65 percent of hospital beds occupied and 55 percent of ICU beds occupied, both of which are below the 70 percent target.

An additional 18 people were discharged from the hospital in the last day.

Meanwhile, the number of people killed by complications related to COVID-19 increased by 2 to 1,947. This follows a day in which the number of people who died from complications related to the virus was zero for the first time since mid March.

Meanwhile, the county will continue to maintain a field hospital built by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers at Stony Brook University in the event that a second wave hits in the fall. If such an increase in viral cases hits Long Island at the same time as a difficult flu season, that could have a “devastating” impact on the health of the residents and the economy, Bellone said.

The county has not had to use that field hospital yet. If that facility, however, becomes necessary in the fall and into the winter, the county will add any necessary winterizing capacity.

Bellone continued to urge the federal government to help local governments, like Suffolk County, as they deal with the economic fallout from the virus. Bellone cited a municipal finance team’s report that estimated an economic hole that could be between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion.

“We know we are in a recession right now,” Bellone said. “The numbers are cataclysmic in their impacts on local governments.”

Public health, public safety, and social services will all be “critical” in the days and months ahead, which will put tremendous strain on a county budget that depends on sales taxes that completely dried up after the county followed federal guidelines and shut down businesses to save lives and contain the spread of the virus.

“The good news is that our federal representatives are fighting for us in Washington to make sure the national government has done what it has always done throughout our history in times of need,” Bellone said.

The county executive said Long Island sends billions more to Washington than it receives each year, which increases the importance of helping Long Island’s economy recover.

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In a milestone indicative of how deadly and prolonged the toll of the virus has been, Suffolk County reported the first day without a death from COVID-19 since March 16.

“I’m finally able to say that no one in Suffolk County in the last 24 hours has died from COVID-19,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. “That’s a great place to be.”

While Bellone said the county, which entered Phase Two of its reopening Wednesday,  June 10, still has a ways to go before it controls the spread of a virus that has claimed the lives of 1,945 people in the county, the day without a death from the pandemic is a “milestone.”

With many other states, including Texas and North Carolina, are experiencing a surge in the number of people diagnosed with the virus and being admitted to hospitals for their care, Suffolk County continues to experience a decline in the number of residents testing positive.

Indeed, in the last day, despite protests over the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a former police officer charged with murder, the number of people who tested positive in the county only increased by 47, raising the total to 40,559.

Bellone attributed the current condition on Long Island to the pain, uncertainty and suffering that rocked Long Island, which was the epicenter of the pandemic in the country.

“Because of the experience we’ve gone through, overwhelmingly, people are taking precautions,” Bellone said. “They are still listening to the guidance. Even at protests, even at demonstrations, I have seen people wearing face coverings.”

Suffolk County also has an advanced testing and contact tracing system that is making a difference as the area reopens.

Meanwhile, earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order requiring local police agencies to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input. Each police agency’s plan must include procedures and practices that extend beyond the use of force by April 1, 2021.

The police forces have to engage the public in the process, present a plan for comments, and share that plan with a local legislative body. If the government doesn’t certify the plan, the police may not be eligible to receive future state funding.

Bellone said he “looks forward to working with the state” on community police policies. The county executive said he is proud of the work the Suffolk County Police Department has done with anti-bias training.

The SCPD has “developed leading edge initiatives.”

Cuomo also signed a bill passed by the state senate earlier this week repealing 50-a, a statue in civil law that prevented people from accessing records of police and other civil servants like firefighters. Advocates said this will allow more transparency, especially regarding police misconduct. Police unions and senate republicans said this would puts cops in more danger, despite proponents saying people cannot gain access to cops’ personal information.

Bellone reemphasized a point he has made in recent days amid the backlash against unjust and unfair policing polices, suggesting that the police are “part of the community, they aren’t coming into the community” from the outside.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said she met this morning at 11 a.m. with the President of the Guardians, which is an internal fraternal organization representing black officers. She meets with the Guardians on a monthly basis.

Officers in the Guardian “know they have accessibility to leadership,” Hart said. “Those conversations lead to suggestions.”

The discussion this morning was more informal and was part of an open conversation and dialog.

As for the impact of COVID-19 in the county, the numbers continue to show a hard-fought recovery from the deadly virus.

Hospitalizations in the 24 hours ending on June 10 declined by 17 to 134. The number of residents in the Intensive Care Unit also declined by four to 41.

“These are all great numbers,” Bellone said.

An additional 16 people were discharged from hospitals in the county.

The bed capacity remained below important levels. Residents with COVID-19 represented 66 percent of the overall beds, and below 60 percent of the ICU beds, which are below the 70 percent guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The county handed out 17,000 pieces of personal protective equipment over the last day.

Finally, the county worked with Island Harvest to distribute food through a program called Nourish New York today.

The effort, which was at the Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore, planned to distribute 100,000 pounds of food, including cheese, milk, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and ground beef.

The program “helps those in this desperate time who need food” while preventing waste and supporting the agricultural community, Bellone said. Through 2 p.m., the program had handed out more than 2,500 boxes of food items.