Pictured Above: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in an April 7 CNN segment on how quickly the county saw its Covid death toll rise.

Suffolk County hit a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, when the county reported its two-thousandth death from the virus.

The county had been hovering just short of 2,000 deaths for weeks, with long stretches of time in which no one here has died of the virus.

At the height of the pandemic early April, the county reported several days in which more than 60 people per day died of the virus — a number that ballooned dramatically from just a handful of deaths per day in late March.

The county employed refrigerator trucks and cleared out a meat storage facility at the Suffolk County Farm to serve as impromptu morgues to house the dead.

In an April 7 segment on CNN, County Executive Steve Bellone gave television reporters a view of the county’s morgue, which was full, and two refrigerated trailers being filled with victims of the virus outside the morgue.

Standing outside the morgue, Mr. Bellone warned leaders of other suburban communities about “how quick this happens and how intense it gets.”

On April 1, 69 Suffolk residents had died from the virus. By May 1, 1,203 Suffolk residents had lost their lives to Covid.

In recent weeks, the virus appears to have been tamed here — at least for the moment. Only three Covid patients have died in Suffolk since Aug. 1.

The county reported 50 new Covid cases in the 24 hours ending Aug. 18, with 1.1 percent of people tested testing positive in the past 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 573,055 tests for an active Covid infection have been conducted in Suffolk, with 7.7 percent of people tested testing positive.

In total, as of Tuesday, 44,235 Suffolk residents had been confirmed to have had an active Covid infection, with an additional 24,855 residents testing positive for antibodies to the virus.

By contrast, on April 7, the day Mr. Bellone’s visit to the morgue was aired on CNN, of the 33,225 tests for an active Covid infection that had been conducted to date, 43.7 percent had been positive. Antibody testing had not yet begun.

On April 7, 1,517 patients were hospitalized with the virus in the county, 506 of whom were in intensive care.

Forty-seven people are currently hospitalized with the virus here, with just 13 in ICU, and 5,703 Covid patients have been discharged from Suffolk hospitals since March 22.

On the East End, 1,128 people in Southampton Town have been confirmed to have had an active Covid infection, along with 778 people in Riverhead Town, 401 in Southold Town, 236 in East Hampton Town and nine on Shelter Island.

By contrast, Islip Town has seen 13,312 active Covid infections since the start of the pandemic, followed by Brookhaven Town with 10,359, Babylon Town with 7,301, Huntington Town with 5,364 and Smithtown with 2,699.

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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