After the pandemic caused New York state and Long Island to shutter businesses for months, Long Island moved within two days of entering phase one of reopening.
Hospitalizations continued to fall, with the number of beds occupied with COVID-19 patients dropping 31 to 343 in the period ending on May 23rd, the most recent date for which the county had figures. The number of people in Intensive Care Units battling the virus also declined, by eight to 111.
In the last day, an additional 18 new cases of residents with COVID-19 have required hospitalization.
At the same time, 38 people have left the hospital in the last day, continuing their recovery at home.
An additional six people died in the last day from complications related to the virus, raising the total in Suffolk County to 1,840.
Patients with COVID represented 64 percent of total hospital bed occupancy and 61 percent of ICU bed use, well below the 70 percent required for reopening.
“We are looking forward to hitting that first phase this Wednesday,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.
So far, the attendance at the newly opened beaches has been light due to the weather during the three-day weekend.
“We are determined to make sure families and kids will enjoy a summer, even in the midst of this global pandemic,” Bellone said. “We believe we can do this safely.”
Bellone was also pleased that the area was able to hold a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Post in Patchogue. The ceremony, which didn’t include the typical parades and moments to honor the service men and women who died for their country, was streamed live on FaceBook.
Bellone was especially eager to recognize the fallen service men and women this year, on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“It was a pleasure to be there with all my colleagues, democrats and republicans,” Bellone said which included Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1), who, is a U.S. Army Veteran and also spoke at Calverton National Cemetery. “It is a time for all of us to be reminded of the fact that what unites us is so much more important than petty disagreements.”
Bellone added that, “we are all Americans and we are all in this together.”
Separately, as the county and Long Island prepare to enter Phase One of a reopening plan, officials cautioned residents to continue to practice social distancing and to wear masks when they can’t remain at least six feet away from others.
Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said he was in his office today, on Memorial Day, to continue to prepare enforcement plans for the area.
“I’m not certain how people are going to react,” Cameron said on the call with reporters. “I hope they are going to react with good judgment. We are prepared to act if necessary.”
Cameron added that the police department has been successful in educating people and asking for their compliance. He said officers have been able to convince residents and business owners to continue to follow guidelines that protect public health.
“If necessary, we will move to an enforcement phase,” Cameron said. The SCPD has issued summonses to a few businesses and to individuals.