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As COVID-19 hospitalizations in Suffolk dip to 50, Bellone concludes daily media briefings

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone ended a streak of 122 daily press briefings Wednesday as Long Island entered Phase 4 of reopening.

The daily briefings began March 8 when Suffolk saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a Greenport man. There are now 41,807 cases of coronavirus in the county; Mr. Bellone reported an additional 69 cases Wednesday.

The additional cases increased the county’s infection rate to 1.7%, slightly above the 1% rate that had been documented for several days.

“That is a little higher certainly than we have seen, but it’s just one day’s numbers,” Mr. Bellone said. “So we won’t put a lot of credence in that.”

Just 50 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 and nine patients are in ICU beds, the county executive said.

“It’s an amazing number considering where we’ve been,” Mr. Bellone said, reflecting on the 122-day journey.

Five days after Mr. Bellone held his first in-person briefing, deputy county executive Peter Scully tested positive, sending the county executive and his administration into quarantine. The next day, schools closed and Mr. Bellone said the county entered “full crisis mode.”

Four months later, the final phase of reopening began on Long Island, allowing for higher education, low-risk arts and entertainment, media production and professional sports without spectators.

“We’ve been up the mountain and we’ve made it down the other side,” Mr. Bellone said. “We know we still have more work to do.”

While the regular briefings will end, the county executive said information will be updated on the county website daily and he may still hold briefings on an as-needed basis.

He encouraged residents to visit the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, Long Island Maritime Museum in Sayville and Long Island Game Farm in Manorville, which all reopened Wednesday.

Some popular North Fork venues like Splish Splash water park remain closed. The Suffolk Theater has canceled its events through August and the Riverhead Raceway is hosting its official kickoff to the season on July 26.

While good news, Mr. Bellone identified several sectors that were left out of the governor’s New York Forward plan under Phase 4.

“We still have other businesses that need direction and a plan,” he said, including bowling alleys, movie theaters, catering halls and gyms.