County executive reports sharp rise in coronavirus cases as testing increases

County Executive Steve Bellone reported Thursday the biggest jump yet in the number of positively diagnosed COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Suffolk as testing efforts have increased.

The county executive said there have now been 239 positively confirmed cases in the county — up from 160 a day earlier – including 45 in Southold, four in Riverhead and the first on Shelter Island.

Mr. Bellone said more than 250 residents have received mobile testing at Stony Brook University Hospital and more than 1,500 tests have been taken countywide to date.

“We’ve come a long way now, the testing is happening,” he said.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the county executive’s Thursday briefing:

• The county’s business recovery unit is up and running now and businesses how want to report being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can call the county’s 311 hotline or email

The county executive also said the state’s disaster declaration had been approved by the federal government, making small businesses eligible for disaster relief loans.

More information about the county’s business recovery unit can be found at, the county executive said. For more info on small business loans visit

• Mr. Bellone said there were 479 hospital beds available in Suffolk County, including 74 intensive care units as Wednesday night. He said it’s more important to focus on how many more beds can be made available in the coming four to five weeks as demand increases. Currently 27 patients are being treated in Suffolk hospitals, including seven in ICUs, county health commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said.

• To expand hospital capacity, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department is looking at making pods on the Yaphank jail campus available for treatment. The county is also looking at using space at Suffolk County Community College, Mr. Bellone said.

• Mr. Bellone also reiterated the importance of social distancing, saying the county has received reports of large groups of children gathering to play. He said it’s unfair to health officials on the front lines if others in the county don’t exercise precaution.

“[Gov. Andrew Cuomo] has described this as war and I think that’s an apt description,” he said, adding that like at wartime some people are on the front lines but everyone is affected.