Update: March 17, 4 p.m.

Southold Update

There are now 28 cases of coronavirus in confirmed by the health department in Southold Town, said Town Supervisor Scott Russell this afternoon.

• The New York State Department of Health is allowing people to make appointments at their Suffolk mobile testing site NOW. The testing site is still being determined but is expected to come online later this week. Suffolk County residents who want to make an appointment for the test can call now and they will be triaged by a nurse. Residents can make appointments by calling 1.888.364.3065.”

• Suffolk residents can now text COVIDSUFFOLK to 67283 to receive information on the latest coronavirus developments and health guidance.

•The Greenport branch of Bridgehampton National Bank is operating with just the drive-through window open to the public, and the Mattituck branch of Capital One Bank is temporarily closed. Capital One customers are being directed to use the Riverhead drive-up in the TJ Maxx parking lot on Route 58.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also announced Tuesday afternoon two cases have been reported within Southampton Town boundaries, and East Hampton and Riverhead each had two cases. There are a total of 94 cases in Suffolk as of Tuesday afternoon, along with one more death: a woman in her 90s in Huntington.

• Southampton Town has amended its State of Emergency to note that playgrounds at town parks are now closed, though the parks themselves remain open.

• New York State state will temporarily halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection, for at least a 30-day period, in response to growing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus.

Original Story Follows:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced there are now 84 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Suffolk County in a press conference Tuesday morning, at which he laid out the state’s plan to address testing, social distancing and increasing hospital capacity.

He said that 10,000 people across the state have been tested for the disease, and 1,374 had tested positive.

Mr. Cuomo said 264 coronavirus patients are currently hospitalized across New York, 19 percent of the total cases, which he said is somewhat higher than the average of 15 percent of cases that have been hospitalized since the virus began to be documented in Wuhan, China. He said that 12 people in New York have died from the virus, including two in Suffolk County.

Mr. Cuomo said he’s been barraged by phone calls from county and local governments and businesses upset that the state had ordered bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters closed as of 8 p.m. last night.

“The buck stops here,” he said, adding that he takes responsibility for the closure decision, which he made in the interest of public health, and that decision was not made by local or county governments.

He added that he’s received the most complaints about bars being closed.

Mr. Cuomo added that he has no plans to quarantine any city in the state, and that no city on its own could decide to quarantine itself without state approval.

He added that the state is working to roll out mobile coronavirus testing sites in Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland counties and on Staten Island.

Mr. Cuomo said the state is now shifting its focus to shoring up the state’s health care system, in anticipation that the peak of a ‘tidal wave’ of new coronavirus cases would occur in about 45 days.

He said the state currently has 53,000 hospital beds, only 3,000 of which are ICU beds with equipment necessary for people who are having trouble breathing. He added that ventilators necessary for these patients are in short supply worldwide.

At the peak, he said, experts are expecting patients in the state to need between 55,000 and 110,000 hospital beds. Of those beds, he said, New Yorkers would need between 18,000 and 37,000 ICU beds.

“That’s the challenge,” he said. “The numbers are daunting. We need to flatten the curve so you reduce the peak demand. It’s possible we will be doing more dramatic closings, but not today. I’m talking to other governors in other states…. It’s clear that we can’t manage the expected flow into the hospitals, and we need to reduce that flow by reducing the spread.”

Mr. Cuomo said state health officials are meeting with hospitals today to guide them on an emergency loosening of maximum occupancy restrictions for hospitals, and the state is looking for retired health care workers and medical and nursing students to meet the anticipated demand. He said workers can visit health.ny.gov/assistance to sign up to help.

He has also sent a paid family leave bill to the state legislature today.

Mr. Cuomo added that New York needs the federal government’s help, particularly from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to build temporary hospitals.

“This government cannot meet this crisis without the resources and capacity of the federal government,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said he spoke with President Donald Trump, “a fellow New Yorker,” this morning, and the president “is ready, willing and able to help.”

“We need their help, especially on the hospital capacity issue,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo said this moment “will go through the history books as one of the true cases of panic… In a single moment, your whole concept of life and society can be shaken. We need to see government perform at its best. This is a character test, for all of us as individuals and for us collectively as a society.”

He also paraphrased the Rudyard Kipling poem “If,” about how we will be measured by if you “keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

Mr. Cuomo also urged healthy families stuck at home to get out and visit parks and nature preserves with their kids.

Read our prior coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

One thought on “Coronavirus Update (March 17): Suffolk Mobile Testing Taking Appointments; Cuomo: Build Hospitals, Get Tested, Stay Home

  1. More has to be done to help the poor in homeless shelters already isolated in this environment. Normally are children are in school. We have no internet. We also do not get extra tokens to travel. There is nothing to do. They cut the babysitting and after school help. We are being treated like we have the plague. Workers will not meet with us only by phone. It’s jus terrible. They are protecting themselves and no regard for the residents that live here. They should allow us to have WiFi so we can have access to outside info. This is a crisis. We should also receive more stipend for the kids being that thier home. My husband and I are elderly band can’t get to these places.

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