Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said as the county inches closer toward reopening, residents must remain vigilant and follow health guidance.
“We are thankful to the public for the work they have done . . . as we move forward we will need that to continue,” he said during his daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
Despite the progress being made, as Governor Andrew Cuomo put it, “It’s no time to get cocky, no time to get arrogant.”
Wearing face masks is the key, he said, noting that it is not just the adults, but children as well. “My kids have them. We ordered a Jets face covering for his son Michael,” he said.
Seven children, Cuomo said, are hospitalized in Suffolk hospitals with the COVID-related inflammatory illness that can affect the heart — a situation state officials have raised red flags about in recent days.
An 18-year-old girl from Suffolk County is among three deaths from the illness, which has been likened to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Bellone said the teenager died more than a month ago.
“The reality is today we now know that the virus does directly impact kids . . . we don’t completely understand it at this point,” the county executive said.
The State Department of Health is investigating approximately 100 cases, most of which are children between 5 and 14, Cuomo said during his briefing on Tuesday.
“Will we be wearing face coverings forever? No, we will not,” Bellone said. “When we get past this, we will go back to normal. For right now, this is what we need to do. That’s adults and that’s our kids as well, to protect everyone to get our economy going.”
Long Island has not met the metrics set forth by the Governor to reopen when New York on PAUSE ends on Friday. Looking just at the county, Suffolk has only met four of the seven criteria.
Bellone echoed what he said on Monday that the county is working to hire 400 to 450 tracers in order to meet the state’s metric, and county officials are keeping a close eye on the number of new hospitalizations, though there continues to be a lag in the state reporting system.
Overall hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. Another 15 people died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll up to 1654.
In other news, Bellone announced that the Association for Mental Health and Wellness and the Mental Health Association of Nassau County will begin to offer free online bereavement support group to help people who have not been able to grieve in the way they normally would because of COVID-19.
In addition, there are specific groups for veterans, groups for people experiencing a mental health condition who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, and a creative arts bereavement group.
To signup visit www.bereavement.mhaw.org. Preregistration is required and will be limited to 12 people per group, available on a first-come basis.
Veterans Town Hall
The county executive will host a second Veterans Town Hall through Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 13, at 5:30 PM. Home to more veterans than any county in the state, the county is looking to addressing unique challenges veterans face. Marty Lyons, a former New York Jets star and current radio analyst, will join in. Through the Marty Lyons Foundation, he has worked to fulfill special 7900 wishes of children with terminal or life-threatening illness.
Suffolk County police have launched a new hotline to investigate and track scams, including COVID-19 schemes. Residents are asked to call 631-852-SCAM from 8 AM to 6 PM.