Photo: Denise Civiletti

Local government and health officials are examining the latest COVID-19 data, hoping to see trends that show Suffolk County has reached the apex of the coronavirus outbreak.

But the data are not so clear.

Statewide, there are signs of hope. Total hospitalizations seem to be leveling off and daily ICU admissions are lower, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing this morning. COVID deaths are up, but data on the fatalities lag at least a week behind hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Statewide numbers are affected in a big way by what is taking place in New York City’s five boroughs. They are not reflective of what’s going on here in Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone said today. If the state as a whole is reaching a plateau — and it’s not yet clear that it is — Suffolk is still surging, Bellone said.

COVID hospitalizations in Suffolk continue to climb, as do the number of confirmed COVID infections.

Fatalities, too, keep rising. Bellone reported an additional 64 fatalities today, bringing the county’s total COVID-related deaths to 263, he said.

The number of deaths in such a condensed period of time have created an issue for the county, he said.

The county’s morgue is at 70% capacity and Suffolk has taken steps to expand it — both internally and with refrigerated trailers, one provided by the state and one purchased by the county.

“I never imagined I’d be having daily conversations about morgue capacity and the need to expand that space,” Bellone said.

Suffolk, like Nassau and New York City, must wait and see now — will there be a leveling off of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, or will the climb continue?

Locally, Peconic Bay Medical Center is in much the same position, according to deputy executive director Amy Loeb.

The Riverhead hospital had 86 COVID patients as of this morning, Loeb said. It has filled more than three-quarters of its available ICU beds. Fifteen of the 22 ICU patients were on ventilators, she said. Some of the COVID patients have been transferred in from other Northwell Health system hospitals west of Riverhead, which are operating under greater patient loads than Peconic Bay.

While the hospital is still very busy, Loeb said, “I believe locally we have certainly hit the apex and have flattened the curve,” she said, “I strongly believe that’s related to social distancing measures.”

Like other hospitals in Suffolk, Peconic Bay has had to expand its morgue capacity. It’s been able to do so internally, so far, Loeb said. “We have a refrigerated truck outside — but it’s holding food,” she said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.