One month after Suffolk County reported its first known coronavirus case, there are now more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the deadly virus in the county.

New cases, new hospitalizations and the death toll from coronavirus infections continue to grow in Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone said during a press conference today.

As of this afternoon, 323 Suffolk residents have died as a result of COVID-19 infections, according to data published by the county. Suffolk reported its first two coronavirus deaths on March 16.

New hospitalizations increased by 68 since yesterday, to 1,585.

The numbers are “staggering,” Bellone said.

In Riverhead, confirmed cases rose to 171, accordion to county data.

“The best way we can honor those who have died and their families — and the heroes one the front line — is to stay the course,” Bellone said, urging Suffolk residents to continue to follow social distancing rules, even as the weather warms and people grow ever more anxious to get outside and resume life as we know it.

Noting that the state is seeing signs that the peak of the epidemic has been reached in New York City and, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this afternoon, New York appears to have flattened the curve of the epidemic, Bellone warned against becoming complacent.

“The message is not ‘mission accomplished’ it is ‘stay the course,’” Bellone said.

“The things we’ve bene doing have helped slow it down, but we have to eliminate this,” he said. “The last thing we want to see is because we take our foot off the pedal, the numbers start to spike again.”

Noting the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover this evening, the county executive said the Passover holiday is a holiday of hope.

“So I will end with a hopeful number and hopeful statistics,” Bellone said. Available hospital beds and ICU beds are rising, thanks in large part to the expansion of hospital capacity — adding beds to the total roster of beds.

The county has received shipments of hundreds of thousands of masks and other personal protective equipment in the past two days, thanks to the intervention of Rep. Lee Zeldin, who spoke directly with the White House to make those shipments happen, Bellone said.

The county has also received hundreds of ventilators from the state, Bellone said.

Most hopeful of all, he said, there were 130 patients discharged from Suffolk hospitals in the past 24 hours.

“We will get through this,” the county executive 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.