One number is a dot. Two numbers form a line. Three data points, all moving in the same direction is a trend. The description is a journalistic axiom, which isn’t always true even with three numbers, but it’s one County Executive Steve Bellone (D) was hoping he wouldn’t see.
After two days of small increases in hospitalizations, with a rise of four on Monday and a gain of 18 on Tuesday, Bellone was looking for the numbers would change direction.
He got his wish, and then some, as the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 fell by 62 to 773.
The downward trend “has returned” and is a “great result today,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.
Officials at Suffolk County have been hoping to meet a number of metrics that are necessary to consider a phased reopening of the economy.
Helping to lower the number of hospitalizations was a return to the trend among patients discharged, with 85 people leaving the hospital in the last day, which is well above the numbers who returned home in the previous two days to continue their recoveries.
The county is hovering near the hospital capacity of 70 percent for overall beds and for Intensive Care Unit beds.
Hospitals admitted 43 new patients in the last day due to DOVID-19, which is above the 30 the county or lower the county is hoping to hit.
Simon Properties, the owners of locations like SmithHaven Mall in Lake Grove, had originally said in a memo dated May 6 it planned to open its New York locations, including the two listed, only a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) New York Pause order expires. The company has since stated online it does not intend to open up its properties, and will comply with state and local guidelines.
Businesses like the malls will “follow executive orders, which are lawful orders,” Bellone added.
While downstate regions have not met the U.S. Centers For Disease Control requirements to open their economies, Brookhaven town is set to reopen some marinas, following limited opening of beaches last week. Marinas include Port Jefferson Harbor and Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, amidst several others on the South Shore.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to increase in the county, with 733 additional people testing positive for the virus over the last day, bringing the total to 38,985.
As of press time, Governor Cuomo’s office hadn’t updated the fatality data connected to the virus.
Testing in hotspots such as Wyananch and Huntington Station continues, with 1,097 positive tests coming back from 2,651 results, for a 41 percent positive rate, which is still above the 34.6 percent rate for the county.
Separately, Bellone, along with Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Geraldine Hart, announced a dedicated line for phone scams, 631-852-SCAM (or 7226). Residents can report any scam attempts to this line. The phones will be staffed from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
“If someone is asking you to send them money, check with relatives or authorities before you do that,” Bellone cautioned.
In response to concerns raised about the potential rise in child abuse amid the lockdown, Bellone said the Department of Social Services is “aware” that situations in families that had issues before are “not going to get better in crisis situations.” He said there had been increased staffing at DSS to handle any future reports or increases.
Finally, as of yesterday, the number of police officers who have tested positive for COVID-19 was 87, with 77 of them returning to work.
*Update: Simon Properties has since said they are not reopen its New York malls come May 16. The following is what was originally included in the article.
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) New York Pause set to expire on May 15, Simon Properties indicated today that it planned to reopen the Walt Whitman Shops in South Huntington and the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.
Those high traffic malls have been mostly vacant since the start of the pandemic, while Simon Properties list multiple COVID safety protocols, including preemptive employee screening, occupancy limitations and monitoring while encouraging social distancing, officials were not ready to give the malls the green light.
“All indications are that there will be some extension” in New York Pause, at least for Suffolk County, Bellone said. He anticipates a phased reopening may start sooner in upstate New York, which hasn’t been hit as hard as New York City and Long Island.
Businesses like the malls will “follow executive orders, which are lawful orders,” Bellone added.*