This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Vera Chinese, Candice Ferrette, Bart Jones, David Reich-Hale and Craig Schneider. It was written by Jones.
Long Island had some of its lowest coronavirus pandemic numbers in a few weeks on Tuesday, as officials said they were preparing to follow federal and national guidelines to slowly reopen segments of the local economy.
The number of new COVID-19 cases on Long Island was the lowest since the escalation of the crisis in mid-March. Nassau had 220 new positives, while Suffolk had 193. Long Island has not seen such low numbers since March 19.
Nassau peaked at around 1,900 positives a day on April 7, while Suffolk peaked at nearly 1,600 the next day.
Nassau County reported on Tuesday that it was far from reaching an important milestone in meeting the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard for the safe reopening of certain economic activities such as exterior construction not essential.
For the 13th day in a row, Nassau showed a drop in hospitalizations, to 1,459 – three fewer than the day before – and a 40% drop since the peak, said county director Laura Curran.
The CDC is requesting 14 days of declining hospitalizations, new confirmed cases and an increase in the number of tests provided, according to the county.
“We need one more day of declining hospitalizations to check this very important box for CDC protocols for phase 1 reopening,” said Curran. “Again, the good news continues. About three weeks ago we were 50%, now 21% of people are tested positive. “
State-wide figures showed similar declines. The daily number of coronavirus deaths of 335 was the third consecutive day, the number was less than 400, and less than half of the peak of nearly 800 three weeks ago.
And for the first time in weeks, the number of COVID-19 patients visiting state hospitals in one day was less than 1,000 – up to 953. This figure was almost 3,000 ago about three weeks.
The news came as the United States surpassed the million COVID-19 cases, by far the largest number of nations in the world and nearly five times the total of the closest country, Spain.
Despite improved numbers on Long Island and New York State, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo opposed the idea of a rapid reopening of the New York economy, highlighting the risks of a viral resurgence that could again overwhelm hospital systems.
He urged officials and decision makers across the state to “be smart” to bring society back after the closure, saying he will be guided by health data.
He warned of fear of political pressure.
“We have to act as logical ourselves here,” he said. “Don’t be emotional. Don’t be political. Do not let yourself be pushed politically into a situation: the demonstrators are in front of the Capitol, we had better reopen. No, I’m not going to do this. “
Still, he said hospitals in central New York would be allowed to resume elective surgery soon and that he would announce this week if schools would reopen during this school year – and what could happen with summer courses .
At the same time, he delivered lightning criticism of global health organizations, the federal government, and even the media for failing to warn the United States of the imminent catastrophic death and damage the virus was causing after its first burst in China. from November.
Cuomo has given his most detailed plan to date to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that hospitals must not exceed 70% of their capacity and that the rate of transmission cannot be higher. to 1.1 so that a region can resume its activities.
He listed several factors in addition to guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control, which set a 14-day drop in COVID-19 hospitalization levels as key to considering a restart.
“Remember, we have been through hell in the past 60 days,” Cuomo said in his daily briefing. “What New Yorkers have done has been to save lives, but we have to be vigilant … It’s not over,” even if we want to. He continued, “We have literally saved lives. We cannot now deny all that we have accomplished. “
Testing, tracing and isolating those exposed to the virus remains an important part of the state’s plan to gradually reopen the economy by region, he said.
“We want to reopen, but we want to do it without infecting more people or overwhelming the hospital system … so it’s balance. “
While current state restrictions are set to expire on May 15, Cuomo has declared that not all parts of the state will be ready to reopen after that day, and he specifically stated “not in New York, not in the south of the state, unless a miracle happens ”.
He called southern New York “one of the most affected places in the world” and said protecting the health of residents would be his priority. “I’m not going to trade the economy for life or death … Life comes first.”
Watch transmission rate
Nassau recorded 27 new COVID-19 deaths on Monday, for a total of 1,647. Suffolk reported 29 new deaths, for a total of 1,131, according to state figures released Tuesday.
Northwell Health said Tuesday it has 1,932 COVID-19 patients in its 19 hospitals, including 11 on Long Island. This is the first time since March 29 that the state’s largest healthcare system has had less than 2,000 COVID-19 patients.
“It continues to decline, which is certainly encouraging,” said Terry Lynam, spokesperson for Northwell, the state’s largest healthcare system.
The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nassau County increased to 35,085, while that of Suffolk increased to 32,724. The Long Island total was 67,809. New York City added 1 849 cases for a total of 162,338, while the state as a whole added 3,110 new positives for a total of 295,106.
New York State’s “reopening plan” has 12 steps that include parameters that should be observed to resume activities that are now restricted, Cuomo said.
Some of the key parameters will be whether the hospital capacity remains below 70% and whether the intensive care units also have this 30% buffer.
“If you’re 70%, the bells should ring,” said Cuomo.
Another key factor, he said, will be the transmission rate, which he says should ideally stay well below 1.1 new cases per infected person, the level at which the state would again reach ” epidemic status ”. The state is currently at a transmission rate of around 0.8, he said.
“If it reaches 1.1, it means you’re in trouble,” said Cuomo.
Suffolk County Director Steve Bellone said what he called “good news,” noting that the county had access to low-interest municipal loans that could help the effort. property tax relief for residents.
Suffolk was previously considered to be too small a county to benefit from municipal liquidity facility relief.
The change, made after Bellona had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, will allow the county to contract short-term loans at low interest rates.
He said the county was already facing cash flow problems due to the lack of revenue associated with the closure of COVID-19.