Ninth death reported at Peconic Landing; ICU capacity increasing across county, Bellone says

A 98-year-old woman who lived at Peconic Landing died Saturday in connection to COVID-19, the lifecare and retirement community announced Sunday.

She is the ninth death at Peconic Landing. The woman tested positive March 19 and was a member of The Shores for Skilled Nursing. She had known pre-existing conditions and died at the facility.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to those she leaves behind,” said Bob Syron, president and CEO of Peconic Landing, in a statement. “The Peconic Landing family is thinking of you during this time of sadness.”

As of noon Sunday, there are seven active confirmed cases among members located within the health center. The number of active confirmed cases among team members is also seven.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during his Sunday media briefing that the number of fatalities at Suffolk hospitals had climbed to 175. It was unclear whether that number included fatalities outside of hospital settings. The New York State Department of Health listed 199 fatalities of Suffolk residents on Sunday.

Mr. Bellone said releasing additional details on fatalities — as the county had previously been providing ages and the hospitals where people died — will no longer be a priority. He said that’s to ease the burden on health care workers.

• Capacity for intensive care units across the county has increased. Mr. Bellone said there are 742 ICU beds, an increase of 162. There are now 82 ICU beds available, whereas on Friday the number got as low as 43.

He said hospitals, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to increase capacity by 50%, have identified “every nook and cranny that can be converted.”

There are 3,186 total beds in the county, an increase of 99 from the prior day.

• Total confirmed cases in the county have surpassed 13,000. Southold has 206 total cases and Riverhead has 141. Islip Town, with 3,161 cases, now has the most cases per 1,000 people (9.52), just ahead of Southold (9.28).

• There have now been 107 COVID-19 patients discharged in the last 24 hours from hospitals.

“We’re seeing more people discharged every day,” Mr. Bellone said.

Those patients may not be fully recovered yet, but are well enough to no longer require hospitalization.

• Mr. Bellone spoke about the 150,000 surgical masks that Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) helped procure through a vendor with the help of the White House. The county will be purchasing the masks and Mr. Bellone did not have a figure available yet for what that cost will be.

The burn rate for masks is “very high,” he said.

“We appreciate the Congressman’s efforts,” he added, adding that it was important to hear the commitment from the White House to help obtain supplies the county needs through the next 30 days.

• At 7 p.m. Sunday, fire departments across Suffolk County will sound their sirens and horns in unison as a show of support to the county’s health care workers.

• Mr. Bellone spoke about the CDC recommendation for people to wear face coverings. He said he would wear a face covering when out in public and reminded people that surgical masks and N-95 masks should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.

He reminded people that wearing a face covering does not change guidelines for social distancing and the general order to stay at home as much as possible.

• Mr. Bellone also said he hoped a pair of Congress members from upstate would clarify their criticism of Mr. Cuomo’s plan to shift ventilators from areas of the state where they’re not needed to the most critical areas.

• Mr. Bellone, speaking on the economic side of the crisis, said cultural and arts organizations are struggling like so many others.

“They are a critical part of our economy,” he said.

Through the Department of Economic Development and Planning, grants made available to the organizations will have greater flexibility for funds to be used for payroll purposes and virtual programming, he said.

“We want to make sure they have an opportunity to provide that programming to the public at this time,” he said.

He said Legislators Bridget Fleming and Rob Calarco have been advocating on that issue.