Update 3:53 p.m. Gov. Andrew Cuomo Saturday chose four sites, including SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Old Westbury, as temporary hospitals to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.
The two Long Island sites, plus the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City and the Westchester Convention Center, will host the hospitals, which will be constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Each temporary hospital would be able to handle about 250 patients.
Meanwhile, deaths climbed to nine in Suffolk County, with two women in their 80s, including one in Huntington, lost to the virus.
Earlier Saturday, Cuomo talked hospital capacity, fear, tests and humanity Saturday in his latest press conference on the COVID-19 epidemic
With New York topping all other states in total cases, passing more than 10,000, and New York City at the epicenter of the outbreak, Cuomo sternly warned younger people to take the epidemic seriously. “You are not Superman!” the governor said, reminding them to stay out of the parks and other public spaces for their own health and that of others. While the majority of fatalities around the world have been in people over 60, younger people are not immune, and can spread the disease to others.
Late Friday, the city reported 5,683 confirmed coronavirus cases and 43 deaths. By Saturday, fatalities had increased to 45 in the city.
He said medical workers continue to experience a shortage of masks and gowns designed to keep them safe, and said the state is working with businesses who can produce more. He also said the state has found about 6,000 ventilators from around the world and is working on getting them to New York hospitals, where experts predict a severe shortage of specialized beds, including ICU capacity.
The governor also reminded residents to remain calm and practice a little kindness.
“We don’t talk about practicing humanity, but now if ever there is a time to practice humanity the time is now. The time is now to show some kindness, to show some compassion to people, show some gentility – even as a New Yorker,” he said.
“Yes, we can be tough. Yes, this is a dense environment. It can be a difficult environment. It can also be the most supportive, courageous community that you have ever seen. And this is a time for a little gentility. It is a time for a smile when you are walking past someone. It is a time for a nod. It is a time to say hello. It is a time for patience and don’t let the little things get you annoyed. That’s New York at its best. That was New York after 9/11.”
In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has declared a major disaster for New York, enabling the state to receive financial and other federal help. And the state has closed all Department of Motor Vehicle offices to in-person visits, though service is avaliable online.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County police announced mandatory online or telephone reporting for specific non-emergency incidents, effective Monday, March 23. The changes will be enacted in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 for the safety of police officers and residents. To file a report online, visit https://suffolkpd.org/