With 28 COVID-19 deaths, Suffolk has its highest one-day total yet

With 28 victims ranging in age from their mid-30s to mid-90s, Suffolk County reported its highest single day COVID-19 death toll yet Saturday.

The number of fatalities across Suffolk now stands at 124, County Executive Steve Bellone said in his daily media briefing.

“The toll is especially great,” Mr. Bellone said before delivering the news, “greater than we have seen throughout the course of this.”

The striking death toll came on the same day Governor Andrew Cuomo warned at his daily update that the coronavirus is not spreading to the north, it’s “moving east.” 

“You look at where it’s moving, you see that Long Island number growing, the governor said. “It’s been growing for the past 10 days. And it’s been growing steadily.”

The governor’s concern for Suffolk and Nassau counties is tied largely to a significant five-day growth in hospitalization on Long Island, but nowhere else in the state. Long Islanders now account for 22% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations in all of New York, up from 18% on Tuesday and 15% two weeks ago. Data released by the state shows the percentage declining in New York City.

Asked if the influx on Long Island was related to New York City residents heading east to isolate, Mr. Cuomo said “I don’t think we know.”

Stony Brook University remains the only Suffolk County hospital campus designated a COVID-19 hotspot by the state.

But speaking three hours later, Mr. Bellone reported progress related to hospitalization.

As Suffolk’s hospitals look to expand their number of beds 50% or more under a mandate from the governor, Mr. Bellone said there are now 3,087 beds in Suffolk and intensive care units have grown to about 500. Close to 100 patients were also discharged from county hospitals since Friday, he said. 

“That’s great news,” Mr. Bellone said.

The new numbers mean there are now more than 1,500 available hospital beds across Suffolk and 72 ICU beds, according to numbers provided by the county.

A total of 10,478 patients have been discharged from hospitals across New York since the virus first struck one month ago. 

“Two-thirds of the people who have been hospitalized have been discharged,” the governor said.

Suffolk County’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to 11,370 Saturday, according to the official state and county number. Southold Town is now at 202 cases and Riverhead is at 139.

Here are some more takeaways from Saturday’s briefings.

• The county executive said Saturday that Suffolk’s stockpile of personal protective equipment is now empty, having given out more than one million ear loop masks. He said that shouldn’t impact hospitals, which have their own suppliers, but the county is aggressively pursuing obtaining more supplies. Mr. Bellone counted nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and emergency service providers among those who have requested PPE from the county. 

“In a time of crisis you do what you have to do,” he said of the county’s efforts to bolster its PPE supplies.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cuomo reported Saturday that the state has received donations of 1,000 ventilators from China and an additional 140 from the state of Oregon. The governor said it is also still waiting to receive more than 10,000 ventilators it already purchased, as suppliers struggle to meet the global demand.

• Mr. Bellone urged county residents who have been positively diagnosed with the coronavirus and made a full recovery to reach out to the American Red Cross to donate plasma. The antibodies could be used to speed up a current patient’s recovery, the county executive said.

“You may be able to save somebody’s life,” he said.

• Food banks have taken a hit as unemployment rises and social issues have become exacerbated during the health crisis, Mr. Bellone said.

People in a position to help should donate funds to Island Harvest, he added.

How to donate.