Bellone: At more than 5%, Suffolk’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at ‘alarming’ level

Suffolk County’s COVID-19 rate is above 5% for the first time since May 17, County Executive Steve Bellone reported Tuesday.

There were 609 new positive cases, the fifth time in the past week that there were more than 600 new cases countywide.

“The numbers are alarming to say the least,” Mr. Bellone said. “I think there can be no doubt now we’re in that second wave we’ve long talked about.”

Mr. Bellone’s announcement comes one day after he appeared with Governor Andrew Cuomo in an announcement of a new-five point plan to limit the spread of the virus as we head into the holiday season. The primary focus of that effort will be to make sure hospitals do not become overwhelmed.

Mr. Bellone said Tuesday that there are 248 hospitalizations in Suffolk County, including 46 patients being treated in intensive care.

“Today we have more people in ICUs than we had in all of our hospitals just a month ago,” the county executive said, noting that just 42 individuals were hospitalized Nov. 1.

Another area of focus in the governor’s updated plan is keeping schools open and Mr. Bellone said testing underway in Riverhead and Hampton Bays has helped lower the infection rates in those communities.

“It’s been positive,” he said of school testing. “The numbers have come down.”

Center Moriches school superintendent Ron Mocera, president of the county’s Board of Superintendents, said Tuesday that he believes that testing model is “replicable and scalable” to any district in the county, should the need arise.

One concern raised by a reporter on Tuesday’s media call was issues county officials may be having conducting contact tracing. Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said about 48% of individuals testing positive have participated in contact tracing in the past two weeks. Specifically, he said there have been 7,948 new cases in that time, tracers have made contact with 6,114 of those residents and 3,801 have provided the requested information.