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Rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing in Suffolk County ‘troubling,’ governor says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday during his daily media briefing that the rate of new positive COVID-19 cases continues to increase across the state. There were 7,917 new cases on March 31, compared to 5,145 a week earlier.

The number of new cases reported in one day two weeks ago hovered around 1,000.

More than 21,000 people in Suffolk County have now been tested and there are 8,746 confirmed cases. The one day jump from 7,605 is the largest single-day increase for the county so far.

“That is troubling news,” the governor said of the increased cases in Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester, which are all averaging around 1,000 new cases per day.

Total cases in New York have climbed to 92,381, predominately in New York City, and every county in the state now has reported a coronavirus case.

He said it’s “a false comfort” to assume the virus will not spread in rural communities.

On some good news, he said the number of daily people discharged from hospitals continues to increase. There have been 7,434 patients discharged. There are 13,383 people currently being hospitalized in the state.

Fatalities linked to COVID-19 have climbed to 2,373, an increase of 432 from one day earlier.

“The challenge is still at the apex,” he said. “That’s what this has been all about for every system in this country now. Everyone is basically waging the same battle. Different timeframes, different numbers, different percentages, but it’s the same battle.”

The apex can be anywhere between seven to 30 days, based on different models that state has seen. The variable is the effect of social distancing, he said.

“It makes it difficult to plan frankly,” he said. “We are planning on a day-to-day basis. We believe it is closer to the shorter range of the end.”

Other notes from his briefing:

• Mr. Cuomo said hospital beds are the least concern when discussing beds, staffing and supplies. The hardest components are the staffing and supplies. He said 21,000 people have volunteered from other states to assist health care workers. Anyone wishing to donate supplies can contact the state directly at 212.803.3100 or [email protected].

• In terms of hospital supplies, Mr. Cuomo said hospitals are contributing to a central stockpile that the state can then distribute to where they are most needed. That allows more upstate hospitals to help supply the downstate hospitals facing a greater need.

A regional survey will be done each night where hospitals outline exactly what they have for the state to review.

• The enrollment period for the health exchange will be extended until May 15, the governor said.

• At the current rate, the state has enough ventilators for about six days, the governor said.

“The way we basically are acquiring ventilators is the state is buying them,” he said. “They are very expensive and the state is broke so I have no desire to buy more ventilators than we need. But, we need what we need.”

He said it’s too late for New York to begin a process of companies making new ventilators, although that could work for other parts of the country that are behind New York.

He said all ventilators in New York are accounted for, so they can be moved from one hospital to another as the need changes.

There are 2,200 ventilators in the stockpile and about 350 patients per day are coming into the system in need of a ventilator.

 BiPAP machines are also being converted to use for COVID-19 machines. They don’t have the same force as ventilator, but can still be effective for some patients. Northwell Health has led that initiative and the state Department of Health has approved the protocol for them to be converted.