While the numbers of new coronavirus infections nationwide sets all-time highs almost daily, Suffolk County, and the East End in particular, continue to rest easily at the bottom of the epidemic’s bell curve — at least for the time being.
Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has not admitted a patient with COVID-19 since June 21, and currently has just two patients suffering from the disease under its care, both individuals who have been in the hospital for several weeks.
On Monday, Suffolk County officials said there had been no new hospitalizations at all across the entire county in the previous 24 hours, just the second time since the epidemic started that that has been the case. On Tuesday, there were eight new admissions to various hospitals. There are a total of 73 people in hospitals around the county with the COVID-19 disease.
There were 46 new cases identified in Suffolk County from Monday into Tuesday and two fatalities reported, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
County Executive Steve Bellone said that the number of positives identified from among the more than 3,300 people whose tests were processed on Tuesday represents a small jump in the “infection rate,” a metric that has come to be one of the key measures of the spread of infections in communities across the United States. The county’s infection rate was 1.4 percent on Tuesday, double what it was on Monday, but still not a particularly concerning rate for a single day, Mr. Bellone said.
“It’s still not a terrible number and we don’t put much stock in one day’s numbers in any case,” Mr. Bellone said Tuesday, lamenting that there had nonetheless been more deaths from COVID-19. “I am looking forward to the day when we can report that deaths are down to zero an we see that number continue forward.”
County-sponsored testing sites in both East Hampton Town and Southampton Town have halted operations in the last week as the demand for testing has dropped. Tests remain available in Montauk, at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and at various private clinics and physicians offices.
The county has begun doing mobile antibody testing in an effort to get a better grasp on the total number of people in the county who may have had the coronavirus — a number some surveys have estimated could be over 250,000. Anti-body testing will be available in Southampton Village on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Doscher Park parking lot adjacent to Agawam Park.
East Hampton Town saw four new cases added to its total on Tuesday, but has recorded only about a dozen new cases since early June. According to county statistics, the town has seen just 213 total confirmed cases — though that number only refers to people who had symptoms and were given tests that came back positive for a coronavirus infection, not people who have been found to have antibodies that indicated a previous undetected infection.
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said this week that there have been more than 350 coronavirus tests administered at a testing site in Montauk and none have come back positive for the coronavirus.
East Hampton Town returned its offices to their full staffing on Monday with some modifications in offices at Town Hall and at 300 Pantigo Road. Members of the public are still not allowed into many town offices and those that are open for face-to-face meetings are doing so only by appointment.
“Employees are wearing masks if they have to be within 6 feet of each other, and we’ve installed some barriers, sneeze guards, if you will, between some desks,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “There are limits on the numbers of people allowed to come to some offices, and we’re making everyone sign in with their address and phone number so we can follow up on contact tracing if needed.”
Southampton Town has had more than four times as many cases as its smaller neighbor, with an official tally of 1,066 cases detected in all, not counting the results of antibody testing. Hampton Bays has notched the most cases in the town, though greater Westhampton had the highest rate per capita, with 44 cases per 1,000 residents, compared to just 14 per 1,000 in Hampton Bays.