To provide more information about how the novel coronavirus has swept across Long Island, Suffolk County officials have unveiled a heat map that breaks down confirmed cases, reported deaths and recoveries by town and hamlet.
The maps briefly appeared online late last week while still under development, County Executive Steve Bellone said during a media briefing Thursday afternoon.
“We know this is something the public has been looking for,” Mr. Bellone said.
While the first COVID-19 cases first appeared in Southold Town, the county’s highest number of cases are being reported in the larger, western towns of Islip, Huntington, Brookhaven and Babylon.
Mr. Bellone said Thursday that it’s premature to say if these numbers are directly correlated with the amount of testing being done on the East End, which only saw a drive-thru testing facility open in Riverhead this week.
“Less density is going to have an impact on that as well,” the county executive said.
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott, M.D. agreed that a larger sample size is needed.
“I would like to see more testing on the East End,” he said.
More than 21,000 people have been tested in Suffolk County as of Thursday, Mr. Bellone said during Thursday’s update, a day where positive cases increased by over 1,000 and hospitalizations for the first time surpassed 1,000, with 1,054 patients hospitalized over COVID-19 complications.
The trajectory, the county executive said, is “significant.”
Another 42 patients are in ICU beds county-wide, bringing the total to 314 patients, Mr. Bellone said, also reporting that more hospital beds continue to come online in an effort to increase capacity under Gov. Cuomo’s direction.
There are now a total of 2,881 hospital beds and 438 ICU beds in Suffolk, with 472 and 64 beds, respectively, available, Mr. Bellone said.
Eighty-four deaths in Suffolk County have now been reported linked to the coronavirus. The 15 deaths reported on Thursday ranged from a man in his 40s to a woman in her 80s, all with underlying health conditions. The county executive did not specify what town the deaths were reported in, beyond saying they occurred in “a local hospital.”
Mr. Bellone, who again called on the public to practice social distancing, said these extreme measures are being taken to “address the public health crisis in a way that will ultimately reduce the number of people who will die as a result of this virus” and not overwhelm the hospital system.
He spoke emotionally about those health care workers who are in the throes of fighting the pandemic. “They are operating in an incredibly difficult, stressful, traumatic environment in which they are working overtime, double shifts day after day after day in a struggle to save people’s lives,” Mr. Bellone said.
He called on those workers to continue sharing their stories from the front lines. “Talk about what is going on because it emphasizes the point of why we’re doing social distancing, of why whole parts of our economy have been shut down, why we’re isolating at home…and staying home as much as we can,” he said.