MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As the Tri-State Area inches toward the apex of the coronavirus pandemic, Nassau County is experiencing a growing number of deaths.

County Executive Laura Curran announced the sobering news during her Tuesday press conference, confirming Nassau had 119 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

New York City to the west reported 731 new deaths earlier in the day.

“Again, our hearts go out to the families, especially when we can’t mourn in the normal ways,” Curran said. “We’re just sad about each and every loss.”

 

Curran said the county now has 16,610 positive cases of COVID-19, but in perhaps a hopeful development healthy discharges from area hospitals were larger than new hospitalizations for the second straight day. There are currently 2,281 patients, an increase of 85 from Monday, but there have also been 151 discharges.

“If that trend continues, that means that this really is a plateau,” Curran said, “and that does give us a ray of hope. We’re going to keep watching that number because that’s a key indicator in this crisis.”

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Curran said the improving discharges-to-new hospitalizations ratio means social distancing is working. She asked that residents stay the course during the upcoming Passover, Good Friday, Easter, and Ramadan religious holidays.

“I keep saying this, but you’re going to find a new way to celebrate. You’re already doing it, using technology,” Curran said.

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As for the police departments, the executive said there are currently 111 positive cases and 187 members in quarantine, but emphasized that 97 have been cleared and returned to work.

In the Department of Correction, there are 37 positives, 68 in quarantine, and 31 cleared and back to work. Among inmates, 19 are positive.

SOCIAL DISTANCING ENFORCEMENT

Curran said since March 20, when orders came down on social distancing, there have been 295 residents complaints about people not following the guidelines. Fire marshals throughout the county have received 684 complaints, either through the phone or on the shutdown enforcement website.

“The reason I’m giving you these numbers is not to say how terrible everything is. Most people are listening,” Curren said, adding of the complaints to the fire marshals, only 12 resulted in appearances tickets. Most result in a visit or are resolved with a warning.

“But I will say, those appearance tickets carry a maximum fine of $5,000. So if we have to come back, we mean business,” Curran said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

RAPID TESTING COMING SOON?

The best minds all over the world are working on rapid tests and getting them on-line as quickly as possible, Curran said.

“I just want to be very clear. We have to separate out what these certain tests can do,” she said. “There are some rapid tests that will tell you if you have coronavirus, if you are positive. There is a second category that says do you have the antibodies to it, meaning are you potentially immune to it.”

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Curran said it takes at least a week for antibodies to be created in the body.

She also said when these rapid tests are ready, they will still need both federal and state approval before they can be administered to the public.

Curran said the rapid tests that had been given at three urgent cares in Nassau have not been approved by either the feds or the state for the county’s use, but she anticipates they will be soon.

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