New York is marking a list of grim coronavirus milestones today, with total cases rising above 10,000 in Suffolk County and 100,000 in New York State. It is the largest single-day leap in confirmed cases so far for both the county and the state.

Another 565 people died from the virus since yesterday, an increase of more than 100 from the increase Wednesday.

There are now almost 3,000 total fatalities from coronavirus in New York State. At least 84 of those deaths are in Suffolk County, according to data provided yesterday by County Executive Steve Bellone in a press conference. The county provides updated data on county fatalities every afternoon.

There are now 22,178 confirmed cases across Long Island.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus coverage, maps and cases by town.

In his press briefing this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again expressed deep concern about the rate of increased cases and hospitalizations on Long Island.

“Long Island doesn’t have as elaborate a healthcare system as New York City,” Cuomo said. “We don’t have the same amount of resources on Long Island, and that has us very concerned.”

Bellone warned yesterday that Suffolk County is on the precipice of running out of ventilators, the lifesaving equipment that help patients breathe in the advanced stages of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19.

Yesterday, there were 314 coronavirus patients in ICU beds across Suffolk County, Bellone said, 42 more patients than the day before. Though the county added an additional 23 ICU beds to its hospital capacity yesterday, the new beds are not enough to keep up with the surge in patients requiring intensive care.

There were just 64 ICU beds available countywide as of yesterday, Bellone said.

Suffolk County also reached a total yesterday of more than 1,000 coronavirus hospitalizations, which increased by 157 from the day before.

“What we’re talking about doing in a matter of weeks is essentially creating a new hospital system on top of the existing hospital system,” Bellone said yesterday. “That is a Herculean effort by any stretch of the imagination, but that is what is happening right now.”

Local hospitals have scrambled to expand capacity in the past few weeks, but even areas intended for overflow are approaching capacity. 

Peconic Bay Medical Center has been using a 16-bed intensive care unit in its newly opened critical care pavilion. The unit was originally intended for cardiac patients, but it has been used for general intensive care since the local surge in coronavirus hospitalizations.

As of yesterday, that ICU was filled to capacity.

Additional ICU patients will receive care in the hospital’s other 12-bed unit. Peconic Bay Medical Center has now begun planning to use the auditorium at the former McGann Mercy building, which adjoins the hospital’s campus on Roanoke Avenue, for additional overflow once the hospital’s other ICU has filled.

Peconic Bay Medical Center currently has 70 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, in addition to other non-coronavirus hospitalizations. On a typical day, Peconic Bay Medical Center has about 110 patients hospitalized.

Cuomo has called the looming ventilator shortage a matter of “life and death.” Yesterday, he said the state will run out of ventilators from its own stockpile in about six days.

Today, he is signing an executive order that will give New York State the ability to take ventilators and personal protective equipment from hospitals in areas of the state that have not yet seen outbreaks on the scale of those on Long Island and in New York City and transport that equipment to downstate hospitals where it is currently needed.

This could add several hundred ventilators to hospitals downstate, Cuomo said.

“Am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people to save several hundred lives?” he asked. “You’re damn right I am.”

Cuomo sympathized with hospital administrators that are “reluctant” to give up ventilators, even if they’re not currently in use, for fear of not getting them back.

“I don’t have an option,” Cuomo said. “And I’m not going to get into a situation where we know we are running out of ventilators, and we could have people dying because there are no ventilators, but there are hospitals in other parts of the state that have ventilators that they’re not using. I’m just not going to allow us to go there.”

He is still advocating for the federal government to send additional ventilator, but he doesn’t believe there is enough in the federal stockpile to meet the local need in time. “Truthfully, I don’t think the federal stockpile has enough,” Cuomo said.

FEMA currently has about 9,500 ventilators in its stockpile, according to a report yesterday from the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. Researchers and scientists have forecast that New York State will need as many as 30,000 additional ventilators at the height of its crisis, which is expected to arrive anywhere from one to three weeks from today.

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Katie Morosky
Katie, winner of the 2016 James Murphy Cub Reporter of the Year award from the L.I. Press Club, is a co-publisher of RiverheadLOCAL. A Riverhead native, she is a 2014 graduate of Stony Brook University. Email Katie