Virus Deaths Increase by 64, County Increases Morgue Capacity

Virus Deaths Increase by 64, County Increases Morgue Capacity

Cars line up at the Stony Brook coronavirus testing site. Photo by Kyle Barr
The coronavirus continues to take a heavy toll on residents of Suffolk County, a region County Executive Steve Bellone (D) described as being at the “epicenter” of the pandemic in New York.

The county had an increase of 64 deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related fatalities to 263.

At this point, the morgue at the county is up to 70 percent capacity. Bellone is working with other local officials to bring in additional capacity, in case the number of deaths exceeds the capacity. The county is working with New York State to bring in an additional mobile refrigerated trailer.

Suffolk County continues to focus on so-called hotspot areas, where the incidence of infection is higher than in other parts of the area. These areas include Brentwood, Huntington Station, and Central Islip. In these communities, it is “difficult to get the messaging through because of the language barrier. We are communicating in multiple different ways.”

The county is setting up hotspot testing programs, which will offer tests for free. The county will have more information on these programs, which will be operated by HRHCare, in the next few days.

In terms of overall testing, 15,553 people have tested positive for the virus. Bellone said the positive news was that the number of people in intensive care unit beds had dropped to 506 from 546.

“We’ve seen for the first time a drop in the number of people in ICU beds for the county” since the pandemic reached New York, Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters.

The county executive said he has been fielding questions about whether the County has plateaued. It is too early to make that determination, he suggested.

The message “is not mission accomplished,” he said. “It is, stay the course,” to prevent a resurgence in the number of cases and increasing demands on emergency services and health care workers.

After dropping as low as 43 on Friday, the number of ICU beds available reached 96 today, with 631 hospital beds currently available in the county.

Additionally, hospitals continue to release patients who have battled the virus. In the last 24 hours, 73 residents have left the hospital.

Bellone thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for delivering an additional 136 ventilators, which have been distributed to hospitals throughout the county.

Finally, the Suffolk County Police Department had 57 sworn members who tested positive for the virus.