Coronavirus: Here’s what we learned Thursday

Southold Town is now home to more confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases than any town in Suffolk County, according to County Executive Steve Bellone.

There were at least eight residents who have tested positive from a total of 16 countywide announced at a press conference hosted by Mr. Bellone.

Here’s what we learned today. Click here for live reporting.

Suffolk County

• The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Suffolk County doubled to 16 from eight as more test results came in Thursday, County Executive Steve Bellone said at a media briefing. Ten of the people with a confirmed diagnosis remain hospitalized and in mandatory isolation. Six others are in mandatory isolation at home.

Eight of those cases are in Southold Town. Three are employees of Peconic Landing in Greenport.

At a later media briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Suffolk number is now 20.

• An additional 49 people are under mandatory quarantine, the county executive said. Another 76 people are being monitored under precautionary quarantine and those are travel related cases. Those people remain asymptomatic.

• Mr. Bellone also announced a state of emergency in Suffolk County, which will allow for the government to more quickly respond with purchasing of supplies like sanitizer, protective gear and to move employees where staffing needs are required.

New York State

• Governor Andrew Cuomo said we’re in a public health emergency at his Thursday afternoon media briefing, where he outlined a variety of actions the state will take in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and treat the growing number of people infected.

• 328 residents are now infected across the state, including 112 new cases.

• A total of 2,314 individuals have been tested for the virus across New York state.

• The state is contracting with national labs in an effort to increase the number of tests to 5,000 per day by next week.

• Broadway is being effectively shut down due to a ban on gatherings at gathering spaces with 500 or more seats.

• The state is considering canceling elective surgeries to free up 25 to 35% of the hospital beds across New York.

• Retired doctors and nurses are being urged to contact their former hospitals and medical practices to work on an on-call basis if needed.

Northwell testing

• Northwell Health Labs in Lake Success has now begun semi-automated testing for COVID-19 that will dramatically increase the speed of testing and results back to the patient. Manual testing began at the Northwell lab on Sunday night that saw 133 tests completed by midweek. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for automated testing Tuesday, which spokesperson Terry Lynam said will allow for 150 tests per day to be conducted, with the results sent back to the provider almost immediately. 

By comparison, manual testing in a lab can handle about 60-70 lab tests a day. Mr. Lynam said by the weekend, the semi-automated system will allow for up to 500 a day and they are expecting to be fully automated by next week, when they will be able to do 2,000 a day. They are the first facility on Long Island to implement this system.

Local Schools

• Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said the Southold School District will be closed Friday and Monday. There has been no positive COVID-19 case in the district, he said.

• Greenport remains on schedule to reopen Monday.

• All Riverhead Central School District buildings will be closed this weekend for cleaning in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a message sent to parents in the district Thursday afternoon. 

In Southold Town

• Southold Town have closed due to a State of Emergency, Supervisor Scott Russell announced. All public meetings, hearings and town-sponsored programs are canceled until further notice. Various departments can be accessed by phone or email.

• A part-time employee of Times Review Media Group, publishers of this website, has tested positive for COVID-19 at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. Our publisher released the following statement.

“We have learned that a part-time member of our staff has tested positive for COVID-19 after seeking medical attention at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. This employee has not worked since March 3 and we will work closely with the Suffolk County Department of Health, State Health Department and CDC following their recommended protocols. 

The employee does not interact with the public in their role on our staff, but we have proactively put procedures in place. Our office will be temporarily closed to the public and our employees will work from home until further notice. The good news is our colleague is feeling significantly better and is well on their way to making a full recovery.”

• The Cutchogue St. Patrick’s Day Parade originally scheduled for Saturday has now been canceled, organizers announced Thursday. The announcement follows the postponement of many other of the world’s most prominent parades, including the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which had been held every year since since 1762.

In Riverhead Town

• Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said she and police chief David Hegermiller remain in communication with the Suffolk County Health Department, neighboring town governments and Peconic Bay Medical Center.

There have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Riverhead Town yet.