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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

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Even as Phase Two of the economic restart began yesterday, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said he has reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office to request the restart of other activities.

Bellone has asked that youth sports be permitted. He said he also would like to see non-touch museums that have large spaces with capacity limits reopen.

“Some of that was lumped into Phase Four with mass gathering-type activities,” said Bellone on his daily conference call with reporters. The county is looking at what it can open up sooner.

Bellone, who spent parts of the first day of Phase Two getting a haircut, dining out and enjoying ice cream with a tour of several downtowns in Suffolk, said the reopening was “off to a good start” and that it helped people feel more of a sense of normalcy.

Bellone reminded business owners that the county started a personal protective equipment giveaway.

The county is providing some cloth face coverings and hand sanitizer to small businesses, nonprofit companies and faith based organizations.

“Reopening businesses in this environment is a challenge,” Bellone said. “To the extent we can do something that helps them a little bit, we want to do this.”

Bellone said 403 businesses had filled out applications for those supplies since Monday and that 226 businesses had picked up those kits. Interested business owners can find a supply request form at suffolkcountyny.gov/bru.

Viral Numbers

Over the last 24 hours, an additional 48 people have tested positive for COVID-19, which brings the total to 40,512. The county executive hopes that number continues to remain below 100 for any given day.

The number of new infection numbers continues to remain below 100 despite protests in response to the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

Bellone said it might still be a little early to draw any conclusions about the potential spread of the virus in response to the protests. He will be looking more closely at the new infection rates through the weekend and into the beginning of next week.

“My sense is that being outdoors is a safe environment,” the county executive said.

For the 24 hour period ending on June 9, the number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 declined by 14 to 151. The number of people in Intensive Care Units declined by one to 45.

Hospital bed occupancy from people with the coronavirus stood at 66 percent for hospital beds overall and at 60 percent for ICU beds.

An additional 15 people were discharged from the hospital and are continuing their recovery from the virus at home.

Meanwhile, the number of people who died from complications related to COVID-19 increased by four in the last day. The total for the same period ending yesterday was two, which brings the total to 1,945.

The county distributed an additional 26 pieces of personal protective equipment over the last day.

From left, Port Jeff chamber president Mary Joy Pipe, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Salon Blonde owner Melissa Hanley, Mayor Margot Garant celebrate the start of Phase Two reopening June 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

With Phase Two reopening coming to fruition Wednesday, June 10, Port Jefferson village has looked for several ways for business owners to get their wares and services outside.

Debra Bowling, owner of Pasta Pasta in Port Jeff, set up tables outside for Phase Two reopening. Photo by Kyle Barr

Village officials have already talked about setting up areas in parking lots to allow for more outdoor dining space. At its June 1 meeting, the village voted to waive all dining table application fees for the upcoming season. Mayor Margot Garant said the village has been working with a host of restaurants to figure out how they may go about offering outdoor services. 

The mayor said the village is allowing space for restaurants who normally have no space for outdoor dining in right-of-ways, walkways and parking lots.

By midday Wednesday, the town was jiving. With a steady stream of cars rolling down Main Street, and with customers sitting under canopy eating outdoors, many owners said Phase Two was turning out to be a much better scenario than Phase One.

During a tour of Suffolk downtowns, including Port Jeff, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the difference in allowing construction in the first reopening phase and allowing salons or outdoor dining has been significant.

“After going through an unprecedented event, these are the activities that give people a sense of normalcy,” Bellone said. 

Restaurants are setting up in formerly public places, such as Ruvo East and Old Fields which are laying tents in the space behind their restaurants. C’est Cheese and The Pie are also doing outside dining behind the main building on Main Street. Prohibition Kitchen will be using the parking lot behind its building as well.

Manager of The Pie, Jessica Janowicz, said though they will be setting up a tent behind the business Friday, each week has seen a slow progression in sales. Wednesday showed a big difference, with a steady stream of customers doing takeout since the place opened. 

Other restaurants will be using pedestrian walkways for its outdoor space, including Salsa Salsa, which will have some space in the alleyway next to the shop. Pasta Pasta and Toast Coffeehouse are laying out tables at the top of the stairway along East Main Street.

Debra Bowling, the owner of Pasta Pasta, thanked the Port Jeff chamber and the village for working so quickly with permits and signage. Her restaurant now has several tables and a flower box in front of her shop, and in over 30 years of working there, it’s the first time she has seen it do outdoor dining.

Alana Miletti of Fame and Rebel speaks about Phase Two with County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo by Kyle Barr

Some restaurants that have access to the outside, including Nantuckets, Gourmet Burger Bistro, The Steam Room and SaGhar, will use their current outdoor space as long as it can be open up to the sky. Danfords has its outdoor space on its dock and now has an agreement with the Town of Brookhaven for some use of the Mary Bayles Waterfront Park.  

A member of the village fire marshals did not respond to requests for comment about guidelines for safety in walkable areas.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce released a letter dated June 5 to the Village of Port Jefferson mayor and trustees asking that retailers be allowed some latitude for “outdoor merchandising.”

“The consumer would have the ability to ‘shop’ in a less confined area and the retailer would be creating more opportunities for sales,” the letter states. 

Director of operations for the chamber Barbara Ransome said she has had positive feedback from village trustees on the proposal. 

Garant said they are working up guidelines that should be released sometime on Wednesday, but those were not available by press time. Retailers will have the option to have a table in front of their shops, but they will need to keep 3 feet of sidewalk clear and ensure that they do not block doorways or fire exits, as mandated by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for outdoor dining. 

Code Enforcement will be inspecting businesses and restaurants to ensure they’re not blocking too much of the curb or that they’re adhering to the CDC distancing guidelines. 

“We’re trying to keep it so that it’s nice looking and it’s not an overload of stuff,” Garant said. 

Alana Miletti, the owner of the boutique shop Fame and Rebel, said she has survived in the grueling months of the pandemic thanks to her active social media helping facilitate online orders. Though on Wednesday she said with customers able to browse, even in a limited capacity, she had not had a moment’s rest fulfilling orders since the store opened.

“People couldn’t wait to come out,” she said.

Now with Phase Two salons and haircutters are finally able to open. Melissa Hanley, the owner of Salon Blonde, said she managed to survive during the nearly three full months she was shut down thanks to federal loans. Being back in action, however, means a world of difference.

“It’s been scary — we’ve been struggling a little bit,” Hanley said. “It’s such a relief. This is my life so, to be back in business, I’ve waited a long time for it.”

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County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said he is looking forward to getting a haircut tomorrow, as the county moves into Phase Two of its reopening.

“I have not seen so many people excited about the prospect of getting a haircut or going to the salon gas I have seen over the last week or so,” Bellone said on his daily call with reporters.

In addition to hair salons, car sales, outdoor dining and retail services can restart as the county’s COVID-19 numbers continue to move in the right direction, despite the possibility of an increase in infections amid the approximately 100 protests over the past week and a half in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a police officer.

Bellone was grateful for the peaceful way protestors have expressed their constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment right to express themselves. He also praised the Suffolk County Police Department, including Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Chief Stuart Cameron as well as the men and women of the police force for what he called “improving relations” with the community which have enabled them to keep the peace despite hostile events in many urban areas.

The protests have started a national dialogue which has included a discussion about defunding the police, effectively remodeling the police department so that it focuses on crime while creating other bureaus to handle mentally ill people or face drug addicts. Bellone said he does not support such an initiative, which “doesn’t make any sense.”

He appreciated the work police officers do to fight crime and to investigate various levels of assault and murder.

As the protests continue, Bellone remained confident that the testing and contact tracing in place would enable the county, which has been at the epicenter of the pandemic, would allow the county to respond to any future outbreaks.

Viral Numbers

Over the last day, an additional 49 people have tested positive for COVID-19, which raises the total to 40,426. The number of people who have tested positive for the antibody stands at 15,856.

As of last week, the rate of transmission for the virus on Long Island was between 0.6 and 0.9. A figure above 1 raises the possibility of the spread of the virus.

Hospitalizations declined by three for the day ending on June 7 to 155 people. The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds also declined by three to 47.

Residents battling COVID-19 constitute 63 percent of hospital beds overall in the county and 53 percent in the ICU.

Over the last day, an additional 10 people have been discharged from county hospitals.

An additional four people died from complications related to COVID-19 over the last day. The death toll stands at 1,939.

Starting today, Bellone announced a Suffolk Cares program, which will provide food to those in need. Residents can call 311 from Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eligible residents will receive a box of nonperishable food within 24 to 30 hours. Residents who call on Friday will receive food on Monday.

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As hospitalizations continue to decline, Suffolk County is poised to enter Phase Two of a four phase economic reopening on Wednesday, which would include outdoor dining.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 fell by 21 to 158 in the day ending on June 6. The number of residents in Intensive Care Unit beds stayed the same, at 50.

Hospital bed occupancy, meanwhile, was at 63 percent overall and at 56 percent in the ICU.

The number of people who have left the hospital in the last day was 26.

An additional four people died over the last day, raising that grim total to 1,935. The number of people who tested positive for the virus increased by 48, bringing the total to 40,377. the number of people who have tested positive for the antibody stood at 15,757.

Amid generally peaceful protesting, Bellone said there was a report of an incident in Smithtown that is currently under investigation.

The allegation in the Smithtown incident, which occurred last night, was “serious” and involved additional resources, including a hate crimes unit, a fourth precinct detective squad, and a plainclothes unit, as the Suffolk County Police Department is giving it “the highest priority,” said Chief Stuart Cameron.

Separately, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said he appreciated Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) recent decision to allow outdoor high school graduations. The policy, however, only allows 150 people, which will be “difficult on Long Island,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. He has requested additional flexibility from the state to address the larger communities throughout Suffolk County.

Hundreds of cars huddled in the right lane going east along Veterans Memorial Highway Sunday, June 7. Streaming off Northern State Parkway, the caravan of cars came from Nassau County’s seat of power to Suffolk, all to promote black lives and black efficacy after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

In a day which saw other protests along the North Shore including in Stony Brook and Smithtown, the rally that took place at the Suffolk County executive seat in Hauppauge drew crowds from as far east as the north and south forks and as west as the far edges of Nassau County as part of the NAACP Caravan for Change. Protesters called for an equality of access to housing, loans for businesses and a general end to prejudice. In addition to banning police use of chokeholds and stricter repercussions for officers who commit unwarranted violence, they also prompted bills in Albany to end what’s known as 50-a, a provision in the state’s civil rights code that heavily restricts people from accessing police service records.

Tracey Edwards, the Long Island Regional Director of the NAACP, said one can be for police, but also be against police misconduct. Between speakers at the podium, she added it was also time to recognize the numerous young activists who are helping to lead many protests of the past several days.

“One of the main things we need to do as a community is to identify the young leaders, and pass the baton to them,” Edwards said. “It’s critical that we let young people lead.”

Three young members of the Huntington community have led some of the first protest marches in Huntington and spoke at the June 7 rally about their efforts and examples of racism they experienced while marching. Owner of the Italian restaurant Tutto Pazzo, Luigi Petrone, called protesters animals and savages and said he wanted to throw watermelons at those marching. 

“We were angry naturally, but instead of going about it in an irrational way, we decided to reorganize and mobilize again, but this time take the protest directly to his restaurant,” Kenny Charles, one of the three young protest organizers said. He added they received massive support from the community for their protest in front of Pazzo, with people even dropping off watermelons to protesters in response to Petrone’s comments.

The owner of Pazzo has since shared apologies for his comments in a video posted online.

They said the point of their protests is to show the solidarity of the community, and express the worth of their money, which would not go to support business owners who would discriminate against them. Instead, it should go to supporting and promoting black-owned businesses.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also spoke at the rally. He cited the county replacing Tom Spota as county district attorney who was “systematically targeting black males,” he said, also citing adding more diversity to the county’s Department of Human Resources, Personnel and Civil Service

A few members of the assembled crowd yelled back at him saying “what are you planning?”

“When we talk about systemic change in law enforcement, that is needed, but that is not enough.” Bellone said. “We need systemic structural change in housing, in education and representation in all forms of our government.

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In what Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) called a “bit of a milestone,” the number of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen below 200.2

In the day ending June 6, 21 residents left the hospital, bringing the total to 179.

At its peak, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in April was 1,658, which means that the numbers have fallen by 89 percent amid the worst strain of the pandemic.

“That is great news for us,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “We’re looking to see that number continue to decline as we move through the month of June.”

The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds with COVID-19 also declined by 3 to 50.

Hospital bed use, meanwhile, is below the targeted 70 percent for coronavirus patients. Overall, the residents with the virus represent 64 percent of the total beds, while they account for 58 percent of the ICU beds.

In the last day, the number of people discharged from the hospital was 30, which is above the approximate 10 percent of the total for the last month.

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus was 51, with the total now at 40,329. The number of people who have tested positive from the antibody stands at 15,441.

With beach weather arriving today, Smithpoint and Cupsogue beaches both closed early in the afternoon. The county closed both beaches and provided signs leading up to the beach, while alerting people on social media that the facilities reached their maximum of 50 percent capacity.

While the number of deaths per day slowed over the last few days, with one person dying in the day ending on Thursday, two on Friday and five yesterday, the number of families and friends mourning losses climbed by eight to 1931.

A person reading a name per second for each victim would need over 32 minutes to go through the names of people whose lives the virus extinguished during the last few months.

Bellone offered his thoughts and prayers to the families who have suffered a loss, while he reiterated his hope that the number would of deaths from the virus would fall to zero soon.

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Even as Suffolk County prepares for the second phase of the economic reopening to begin next Wednesday, which could include outdoor dining, officials are discussing the possibility of bringing graduations and minor league baseball back.

The Long Island Ducks, a minor league team, have come up with a safety plan with protocols in place that the county plans to submit to New York State.

“The plan is incredibly thorough and has all sorts of different protocols in place to keep people safe,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

If the county is able to reach the fourth phase of reopening in the middle of July, the Ducks could conceivably return to the diamond in front of a crowd of 25 percent of the normal capacity, which would enable attendees to be socially distanced in the park.

At safe distances, people could remove face coverings, the way they do when they go to beaches or are in the water. When walking around or going to the restroom, guests would need to wear face masks or coverings to protect themselves and their fellow baseball fans.

“We’re looking forward to getting this to the state,” Bellone said. “This is something that can happen.”

Additionally, while the Empire State has only permitted virtual and drive-through graduations, officials have left open the possibility of that they would review the possibility of a limited-seating graduation in July.

“I do believe we will be in a position to do this safely,” Bellone said.

The county has also worked with the Suffolk County Superintendents Association to develop a plan to create a safe, life graduation.

“I’m hopeful that will be able to happen later this summer,” Bellone said.

Viral Numbers

The viral figures continue to move in a favorable direction. Over the last day, an additional two people died from complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,918. This follows a day when one person died, so the pace of deaths, which have cast a pall over a county that was at the epicenter of the pandemic, has dramatically slowed.

Each death extinguishes a life and creates an irretrievable loss for each family, which is why the county and executive like Bellone are hoping that number soon falls to zero.

The number of people infected with the virus was 86. The total number of people who have contracted the virus is now 40,239, which is more than Singapore and Colombia, but is 2,700 less than Sweden, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The infections don’t include antibody testing. A total of 15,080 people have tested positive for antibodies.

Bellone urged residents to provide information if contact tracers reach out to them. When people limit the possible transmission of the deadly virus, as they did during the economically painful and costly New York Pause, they will save lives.

“We are still in this,” Bellone reminded residents. “We need everybody to continue to follow the health guidance and do the right thing here, so we can recovery as a community and get our small businesses back open.”

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, continue to drop. Through the 24 hour period ending on Wednesday, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals declined another 12, to 213.

The number of residents in the Intensive Care Unit fell by two to 54.

An additional 24 people left the hospital over the last day.

Small businesses that are struggling to meet the new supply demands for face coverings and sanitizer can submit a request starting on Monday through the suffolkcountyny.gov web site. Interested businesses should go to the Department of Labor section and submit a request. The first 1,000 people will received two reusable face cloths and a gallon jug of New York State Clean.

The H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. Photo by Rita J. Egan

As the economic toll from the lockdown during the virus becomes clearer, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) has asked department heads to come up with 5 percent cuts in their discretionary spending, which would trim $60 million from the budget.

Those departments include the Health Department, the Department of Public Works, Real Estate, Parks, the Budget Office and the Office of Aging.

“Earlier today, I directed the departments under the control of the county executive’s office to identify potential cuts in preparation for the budget that we will be working on for 2021,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.

As for the spread of the virus, Bellone said he is concerned about any increase in viral transmission during the numerous protests in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, who died when a former police officer, who was now charged with his murder, kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed for close to nine minutes.

“Gatherings of this size and proximity is a concern,” Bellone said. The county executive said the transmission of the coronavirus could become evident over the next week.

As of now, the county has excess capacity at its testing sites, including in hotspot areas.

Separately, Bellone and Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor) will host a town hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss testing and contact tracing. Interested residents can tune in through facebook.com/SteveBellone.

Viral Numbers

Over the last 24 hours, Suffolk County has had the smallest increase in deaths due to complications related to COVID-19, with one additional person dying. The current total is 1,916.

“Every day, I’m hoping to see that number get down to zero,” Bellone said. “We haven’t been down to [as low as one death] since the third week in March.”

The number of people infected with the virus each day continues to hover below 100. Over the last day, 91 people tested positive, raising the total in Suffolk County to 40,153. The number of residents who tested positive for the antibody was 14,778.

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, decreased by 11 to 225, with those in Intensive Care Unit beds declining by five to 56.

An additional 20 people were discharged from hospitals in Suffolk County.

Hundreds of protesters stand at the corner of Routes 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station Monday, June 1 to protest police violence, especially against people of color. Photo by Kyle Barr

In response to the ongoing unrest in the country caused by the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a former police officer who has now been charged with second-degree murder, Suffolk County will field hate or bias crime calls through its 311 number.

Starting today, residents can call 311 to address concerns about bias or hate crimes that they are subjected to or that they witness.

“Hate, bias, bigotry and discrimination have no safe haven in Suffolk County,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. Operators will be ready to provide information or transfer callers to the Human Rights Commission, as needed.

At protests around the county, which included seven such gatherings yesterday in Suffolk, residents are expressing concerns about hate crimes and bias, Bellone said.

The county executive continued to show an appreciation for the way demonstrators behaved during their protests and the ongoing protection and surveillance from police.

“The demonstrations we have seen have been peaceful,” Bellone said. “They represent a contrast with events that have transpired in other communities in our country. That is a credit to the people demonstrating and to the Suffolk County Police Department.”

Amid the economic devastation from the lockdown, Bellone commissioned a financial report that he presented to various public sector unions earlier today. The report anticipates a revenue shortfall of between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion over the next two years.

Bellone shared with those unions his hope that federal representatives, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) will continue to support the county and will endorse financial assistance amid the financial devastation caused by the virus.

Bellone didn’t offer the unions any specific assurances, saying that he wanted to give them the foundation of the financial issues the county was facing.

Meanwhile, outdoor seating at restaurants will be allowed throughout the state as each region reaches phase two of its reopening. At the latest, Suffolk County could enter that phase next Wednesday.

SC Taskforce Worst Case Scenario Projects $590 Mln Revenue Shortfall for 2020

None of the choices is particularly appealing, but V is certainly better than W and U.

A COVID-19 Fiscal Impact Task Force report projected a range of economic scenarios for the county, depending on the impact of the virus later this year. In a “V” case, the economy rebounds quickly and continues to climb.

A “W” scenario, on the other hand, recovers, then stumbles amid a second wave of the virus that doesn’t require a lockdown, and then stages another recovery.

The worst-case scenario, however, is the “U,” in which a second wave presents enough of a recurring public health crisis that the economy recovers far more slowly.

The three possibilities will likely dictate the extent of the revenue shortfall over the next three years.

About $329 million of the overall revenue shortfalls come from actual declines in sales tax collection so far in 2020. Additionally, the task force, which included Emily Youssouf, Larian Angelo, Michael Kelly and Nathan Leventhal, anticipates a 4.9 percent shortfall in property tax collections, which translates into a reduction in collections of $35 million.

The group also projected a $30 million revenue shortfall from OTB/ casino and motel/ hotel taxes.

The range of revenue shortfalls through 2022 are from $1.136 billion to $1.518 billion. The biggest single-year gap between projected revenue and actual revenue would be in the “U” scenario for this year, for which the county would come up $590 million short.

The task force concluded that the current economic outlook requires a swift and dramatic response to prevent an economic disaster.

“Even the most optimistic scenario which the task force has examined will place enormous pressure on the ability of the county to maintain an acceptable level of government service which the County’s residents have every right to expect,” the group warned in its conclusions.

Viral Numbers

The number of residents who tested positive for the virus was 82, raising the total with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 40,062. With 4,840 tests, that represents a 1.7% percent positive rate among those tested, which is well below the rate for positive tests in April.

The number of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 declined by 11 to 236 as of the 24 hours ending on June 1. The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds also fell by six to 61.

The percentage of people in hospital beds with COVID-19 was 63 percent, while the percentage in the ICU was 52 percent, both of which provide the kind of flexibility in the health care system the state hoped to provide.

Over the last day, another 11 people left the hospital. Six people have died over the last day due to complications related to the coronavirus, raising that enormous human toll to 1,915.

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Suffolk County has a tough task in digging out of its enormous financial hole.

A group of independent and municipal financial experts completed their analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the economy and presented it to County Executive Steve Bellone (D) last night.

Over the next two and a half years, the county is facing a shortfall that is anywhere from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion, which is three times the budget deficit the county faced coming out of the financial crisis of the last decade.

“This is a budget crisis that is greater than this county has ever seen before,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. “This report outlines it well. We have a long road ahead.”

Bellone is sending this report to the entire congressional delegation so they can understand the financial emergency created by the public health crisis.

“This is a crisis that’s beyond what a local government has the capacity to deal with on a local level,” Bellone said. “If ever there was a time that a local community needed their federal representatives to deliver for them, that moment is now.”

After residents did as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal government instructed, by staying at home, not going to work and limiting their activities over the last few months, Suffolk County residents need the federal government to say, “Yes, we have your back,” Bellone said.

The range of estimates for the shortfall comes from the uncertainty about how the virus will affect the county for the remainder of this year. On the lower end, which is still an enormous financial challenge, the economy remains open. In a second scenario, where a second wave of the virus hits in the fall, potentially concomitant with the appearance of the flu, the county needs to enact some economic restrictions.

In the third scenario, the spread of the virus is so problematic that it forces another lockdown, which would cause the shortfall to balloon to $1.5 billion.

No matter how the virus affects the county later this year, however, this has a “cataclysmic financial impact,” Bellone said. “This is not something we can get through alone. We need that support.”

The county executive said he plans to meet with employee unions, including those that represent police, nurses and emergency workers, to have some tough conversations.

These people are out there “trying to keep the public safe and to prevent a second wave,” Bellone said. “These are tough conversations only because these are extraordinarily difficult challenges.” It’s not something they should have to think about.”

Ultimately, Bellone said he believes the federal government will step up to the challenge created by the public health crisis and the economic damage it wrought.

“I’m confident our federal government will deliver and will do what needs to be done,” Bellone said.

As for the ongoing protests, including a demonstration in Shirley yesterday, Bellone remained appreciative of the peaceful and constitutionally protected way demonstrators expressed themselves.

When the demonstrators marched along William Floyd Parkway, the police “worked to deescalate a situation that could have grown worse,” Bellone said.

Viral Numbers

In the last day, the number of people who died from the virus was three, bringing the total to 1,909.

Those deaths, horrific as they are for each person who died and for the families and friends who lost a loved one, are the lowest they’ve been since March.

“If there’s anything positive today in being able to talk about those numbers” it’s that the death toll is lower than it’s been since the beginning of the crisis, Bellone said.

In the 24 hours ending on May 31, the number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped by six to 247. The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds remained unchanged at 67.

People with COVID-19 accounted for 68 percent of bed use, while residents with COVID-19 accounted for 54 percent of ICU bed use, which are each below the target 70 percent figure that was necessary for Phase 1 of reopening.

The number of positive tests increased by 275 to 39,980. That number, however, includes 200 people who had not been reported earlier, which puts the number of new infections closer to the county’s daily tally, which has been tracking below 100.

The number of people who have tested positive for the virus on an antibody test has increased to 14,222.

As for supplies, the county distributed 22,000 pieces of personal protective equipment over the last day, raising that total above 5.8 million.

Today, the county received 50,000 surgical masks from the Taiwanese government, which had shipped them to New York City last week and were delivered to Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services today.