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Bellone: ‘We are engaged in this fight for the foreseeable future’

Three more people in Suffolk County have died from the coronavirus, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Sunday during a media briefing. That brings the total in the county to 12.

A man in his 80s died March 18. The Suffolk County medical examiner performed a COVID-19 case that day and the positive result came back Saturday.

A man in his 60s died March 14 at Stony Brook University Hospital. The positive COVID-19 confirmation came Saturday. Other medical factors contributed to his death, the county executive said. The man had been in an automobile crash.

A man in his 50s died Friday at South Side Hospital. The positive test came Sunday.

“It is heartbreaking to have to report those results,” he said.

He added that the deaths serve as a reminder of the responsibility everyone plays to help limit the spread of the virus.

He said the county’s response has shifted toward a mitigation strategy as the virus has now been spread throughout the county. He added that it remains a long-term effort with weeks, if not months, ahead.

”We know that we are engaged in this fight for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Other notes:

• Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott, M.D., said there are 89 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 28 are in intensive care units. As of Sunday afternoon, there are 644 out of 2,626 beds available. And 86 ICU beds are available out of 275.

Mr. Bellone described the effort to increase hospital capacity as waiting for a tsunami.

“You know it is coming, that wave is coming,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prepare for that.”

• More than 2,000 tests have been conducted at the Stony Brook University testing site as of Sunday. The site opened Wednesday.

• Starting Monday, a new policy will go into effect for Suffolk County Transit to begin rear-boarding to help protect drivers. The first few rows of the bus will also be sectioned off to create a larger buffer between the public and the drivers. The county is also encouraging everyone to avoid using cash on Suffolk buses and instead to download the mobile app, Suffolk FastFare.

• Mr. Bellone reiterated that food supplies have not been affected so there is no need to hoard food. 

• The number of confirmed cases released by the county, 962, differed from the number released earlier in the day by the governor’s office, 1,034. Mr. Bellone said the figure released by the county was based on the most recent information the county health department had. The governor released a number based on the state health department. Information is being gathered from multiple sources to tally the figures.

• A Suffolk County Supply Drive for personal protective equipment to protect medical professionals and first responders begins Monday. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., donations can be dropped off at the Suffolk Fire Academy at 102 E. Avenue in Yaphank.

Donations sought include gloves, ear loop face masks, gowns and gloves.

For a large donation of supplies or potential vendor opportunity, contact [email protected]ffolkcountyny.gov.