Just over two weeks ago, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone happily announced a milestone in the county’s fight against the coronavirus. There had been zero fatalities linked to the virus in the prior 24 hours, the county executive said on June 12.
The milestone, however, was short lived. Additional fatalities were reported each day after that. While the daily totals were far less than during the peak of the crisis, the tragic effects of COVID-19 could still be felt each day.
On Monday, Mr. Bellone said for the first time since June 12 — and for only the second time since mid-March — there were no deaths to report linked to COVID-19 in the prior 24 hours.
“I was hopeful at that time that I would be able to do that repeatedly,” Mr. Bellone said Monday. “But unfortunately it took now 17 more days for us to get to that point once again.”
The total number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in the county is 1,979.
“I do hope and pray that it will not be another 17 days for me to be reporting zero deaths again,” he said.
The number of fatalities in the state as a three-day average reached single digits. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who held a press briefing Monday morning, said the number as of Sunday was eight. The percent of positive tests across the state on Sunday was also the lowest figure at .84%. Below .1% is the goal, the governor said. Long Island on Sunday registered a positive test rate of .7%.
“Those are great numbers,” Mr. Bellone said of Long Island’s positive test rate. In Suffolk County, he said, there were 33 new cases in the last 24 hours. The overall total is 41,339. Another 19,074 people haves tested positive for the antibodies.
The county executive also announced a return to front boarding and fare collection on Suffolk Transit buses. A rear boarding policy had been in place for several months. Passengers are still required to wear face coverings on the buses.
“We continue to encourage people to use the online mobile app,” Mr. Bellone said.
The governor also spoke about the benefit of High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and how they can potentially stop the spread of COVID-19 through air conditioning systems. He said the COVID-19 virus is approximately 0.125 micron in diameter and the HEPA filters are designed to filter particles of 0.01 micron and above.
He said indoor malls will be required to have the HEPA filters in order to open. The state is recommending all businesses and offices to consider installing filters capable of filtering COVID-19.
“We have been looking at this issue because you look around the country and you’re seeing malls, you’re seeing air conditioning systems, indoor spaces that have been problematic and we think this offers promise,” he said.