ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Nassau County declared a state of emergency Friday as the number of coronavirus cases on Long Island continues to grow.

As of Friday morning, there were at least 68 cases in Nassau and Suffolk counties – including 48 in Nassau County – with hundreds more in mandatory and voluntary quarantine. Thirteen people in Nassau County have been hospitalized, and two with underlying conditions are in critical condition.

Of those in Nassau County, most reported mild symptoms. Two patients in critical conditions had underlining health issues.

“These are trying times, but we have to be concerned, cautious and calm,” said Nassau County Village Association president Edward L. Lieberman.

“We all know how COVID is spread,” said Nassau County legislator Kevan Abrahams. “The best way to control that is to try to minimize our public interactions.”

Town of Oyster Bay facilities are being sanitized three times a day and seniors are being told to stay home.

“While community spread is the largest threat, residents should avoid all large social gatherings and public places,” said Oyster Bay town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

A state of emergency was previously declared in Suffolk.

“This is not to make anyone panic. We are doing this as a precautionary measure to access resources, authorize emergency spending and to allow me to take actions that will keep Nassau’s residents safe,” Curran said.

Under the order, Curran closed county-owned and operated indoor recreational facilities including the Aquatic Center, ice rink, the Long Island Children’s Museum and a long list of additional museums and other facilities.

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“I am also closing our Traffic Parking Violation Agency to the public and temporarily stopping enforcement of boot and tow program. We are also temporarily stopping eviction enforcement proceedings by the sheriff,” Curran said.

Public schools will remain open, however.

“The CDC has a mass pandemic plan. And closing schools is one of the very last measures. Science has shown us what measures work in preventing the spread of diseases and what has not. And closing schools in a pandemic has actually been scientifically proven to be one of the least valuable things because now students are home. And somebody’s got watch them. If a parent has to go to work, maybe now they’re with a grandparent that they could be exposing that they would not be,” Nassau County Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein said. “We may get to that point, but there is a scientific reason for the decisions that we make.”

“Something else to consider is a lot of our health care providers and first responders have kids in school as well, so we want to make sure that those on the front lines are able to respond,” Curran said.

Officials repeatedly urged residents to remain calm and not to panic. They urged people to continue to avoid large gatherings and follow safe hygiene protocols of washing hands frequently and staying home if you feel ill.

Officials emphasized over and over again: “We will all get through this.”

Curran said that she will start reducing the number of county employees working at any one time at office sites from March 16 for a week, which will impact hours of public access. After a five day period, officials will reassess to see if hours need to be shifted going forward.

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Curran also said that blood drives are not considered mass gatherings and will continue to go forward.

Parks and golf courses are open, Curran said.

Curran said Nassau County is keeping an eye on the just-opened drive through testing in New Rochelle, and if it is successful, they will look to replicate it.

Suffolk County has suspended all after school non-instructional activities, including athletic practices.

Officials also warned about consumers scouring the internet for hand sanitizer and face masks.

“Some of these products give a false sense of security that are downright dangerous,” said Sen. Kevin Thomas. “Items off of Facebook marketplace and Craigslist are not regulated.”

Comments (2)
  1. louslocks says:

    What changed in one day? Has the “science” of school closings changed? Are you closing schools against “scientific” evidence that they aren’t effective or were you wrong in saying they are not “scientifically” effective? I’m confused…

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