Pictured Above: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at his April 4 media briefing

Twenty-eight people died from Covid-19 in Suffolk County between Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4, the greatest death toll reported in the county in a single day, as New York State data shows Long Island’s share cases of the virus in the state are growing.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in his Saturday update to reporters that today’s victims range in age from the mid-30s to the mid-90s, bringing the total number of deaths in Suffolk County to 124.

“For those who have lost loved ones, this is a most important reminder to us of why we have to still isolate and stay home,” he said. “We have to save lives.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his Saturday morning briefing that the state is likely about seven days away from the apex of the number of cases, the point at which the virus could overwhelm the state’s health care system.

He added that Long Island’s share of the state’s cases, which had been hovering in the mid-teens, has crept up to 22 percent of all cases in New York.

“If you watch Long Island, it’s like a fire spreading. It’s been growing steadily for the past 10 days,” said Mr. Cuomo. “It’s not moving north. It’s moving east.”

When asked by a reporter if the increase in Long Island’s numbers are due to New York City residents who went out to the island, where they sought out medical care, Mr. Cuomo said “we don’t know.”

Mr. Bellone said April 4 that the hospitalization rate here has slowed in recent days, and hospitals throughout the county are working to increase the number of available beds.

As of April 4, there are 12,033 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Suffolk County, with 1,416 patients hospitalized and 427 of those patients in intensive care, said Mr. Bellone, who added that 96 patients had been discharged from the hospital in the past 24 hours.

Of the hospitalized patients, 118 of them were new patients, 36 of whom are in intensive care.

“That number has gone down in the last couple of days,” he said of the number of new patients. “Hopefully that is a trend that will continue.”

On the East End as of April 4, there are 202 confirmed cases in Southold, 181 in Southampton, 139 in Riverhead, 49 in East Hampton and two on Shelter Island. By comparison, the town of Islip has the highest number of cases (2,834), followed by Babylon with 1,902.

There are currently 3,087 hospital beds in the county, 580 of which are ICU beds, an increase of 19 ICU beds since April 3. As of Saturday, 631 beds were available for new patients, of which 72 were ICU beds, said Mr. Bellone.

Hospitals here have been heeding Mr. Cuomo’s mandate to increase capacity by 50 to 100 percent. mid-March, there were just 2,300 hospital beds throughout Suffolk County, 242 of which were ICU beds.

Mr. Cuomo said in his April 3 briefing that there are six hospitals on Long Island deemed Covid-19 hot spots, though only two of them — Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip and Stony Brook University Hospital — are in Suffolk County.

“We now track on a nightly basis how many people go into what facility so we can track the increase in what’s happening,” said Mr. Cuomo.” Long Island does not have as elaborate a healthcare system as New York City. We don’t have the same amount of resources on Long Island. And you see an increase in cases on Long Island and that has us very concerned.”

There is a bit of a silver lining to today’s news — new sources of supplies have heartened leaders.

Mr. Cuomo reported Saturday morning that the Chinese government has donated 1,000 ventilators to New York State, with help from Chinese Counsul General Ambassador Huang Ping and Chinese business leaders.

The State of Oregon is sending also 140 ventilators to New York.

“It was astonishing, unexpected, and unsolicited,” said Mr. Cuomo of Oregon Governor Kate Brown, whom he called “kind and smart.”

He said New York will return the favor when Oregon’s hospitalizations are expected to peak in May.

Mr. Bellone, who said the county had already distributed 1.7 million pieces of personal protective equipment to first responders, said the Long Island Chinese American Society has also donated 20,000 surgical masks to the county.

“Thank you to all of those who have been so incredibly generous,” he said.

Mr. Bellone added that a Hauppauge signmaking company, 71 Visuals, has retooled its manufacturing facility and has already made 25,000 face shields for medical workers.

He urged anyone in the county with a manufacturing business that can help to email scdfres@suffolkny.gov or contact him through his Facebook page to see how they can reconfigure their plant to meet the need.

Mr. Bellone also urged Suffolk residents who had tested positive for and recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood plasma, which contains antibodies that could protect current patients, by visiting redcrossblood.org.

He also urged residents with the means to help keep Long Islanders fed during the business shutdown to donate money to Long Island Cares at licares.org or to Long Island Harvest at liharvest.org — online monetary donations are recommended, he said, because it reduces non-essential travel and shopping time.

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

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