Suffolk County’s total Covid-19 hospitalizations declined for the first time Easter Sunday, after a deadly week that brought the total number of Suffolk residents who have died to 518.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Sunday that the total number of hospitalizations had dropped by 44 people in the past 24 hours to a total of 1,658, with 160 people discharged and on their way to recovery.
In the first week in April, total hospitalizations in the county had been increasing by an average of 114 people per day, said Mr. Bellone, but by the second week of April that average had dropped to an increase of 35 people per day.
But the hopeful increase in hospital discharges and decrease in admissions was tempered by another reason hospitalizations had declined — 60 people in Suffolk had lost their lives over the past 24 hours.
Just a week ago, 175 lives in Suffolk had been lost, but the death toll here had tripled in a week that has the entire State of New York reeling from the death toll.
“That number is staggering,” said Mr. Bellone on Easter Sunday. “One month ago we did not have a death in this county.”
The total number of cases in Suffolk County also topped 20,000 over the weekend, though the exact timing of when that milestone was reached was the subject of some confusion as the county’s IT department worked to fix a bug that was creating some double entries.
As of Monday morning, April 13, there were a total of 21.563 confirmed cases in the county.
On the East End, there were 306 confirmed cases in Southampton Town, 238 in Southold, 214 in Riverhead, 91 in East Hampton and five on Shelter Island as of Monday morning.
In comparison, the town of Islip has 5,447 cases — the highest of any town in Suffolk County, followed by Brookhaven with 3,825, Babylon with 3,303 and Huntington with 2,725.
The change in Suffolk’s hospitalizations mirrors the trend statewide, with a net increase of 53 hospital beds filled throughout the state from Saturday to Sunday, “the lowest increase since we started doing these charts,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his Sunday press briefing.
The total number of hospitalizations statewide has stayed in the 18,000 range for several days, said Governor Cuomo, pointing out that “in the flattening of the curve isn’t just an apex. It’s a plateau.”
The daily number of deaths statewide has also leveled off in the past week, but “at a terribly high rate,” said Mr. Cuomo on Sunday, when 758 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the state total to 9,385.
The death rate statewide has been more than 700 people per day since Monday, April 6.
“People say to me, can you ever get numb to seeing these numbers?” he said. “Every one is a face and a name and a family that is suffering on this weekend, a high religious holiday that is already distorted.”
“9-11 was supposed to be the tragedy of my lifetime, when 2,753 lives were lost [in New York],” he added.
Mr. Bellone said Saturday that the leveling off of hospitalizations “by no means means we should be changing course in any way.”
“Social distancing is having a dramatic impact,” he added. “It’s important that we stay the course and be vigilant. It is working and that’s a really good thing.”
He added that it’s too soon to known when it will be safe to reopen the economy, though he did say the county is putting together a task force to address recovery from the pandemic.
“We’re still in the phase where we’re fighting to save people’s lives,” he said.
Mr. Bellone also said he agrees with Mr. Cuomo that reopening of schools and businesses should be coordinated throughout the state. Mr. Cuomo said Saturday that a decision has not yet been made on whether to reopen schools before the end of the school year, after New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said earlier that morning he planned to close schools there through the end of the school year.
“Similar to other issues that we deal with on Long Island, school closures should be addressed on a regional basis,” said Mr. Bellone, who added that he had been involved in conversations with neighboring jurisdictions about taking school and business closures two weeks at a time.
“I agree with the governor’s prudent approach on this issue so that we can solicit input from local stakeholders and school districts across Suffolk County. If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that we are One New York and all in this together.”
Mr. Bellone also announced Sunday that the new outdoor Covid-19 hotspot testing sites at HRH Care clinics in Riverhead, Huntington Station and Brentwood, along with the mobile testing site at Stony Brook University will be closed Monday, April 13 due to a severe storm, and anyone who had an appointment will be rescheduled.
Governor Cuomo also announced Thursday that golf courses and the use of boat launches and marinas for recreational vessels have been added to the state’s list of non-essential businesses.