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Nassau reports fourth coronavirus death

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Nassau County reported its fourth coronavirus death Friday morning, according to County Executive Laura Curran, who spoke in East Meadow. The patient, who was not identified, was a 44-year-old man with an underlying health condition.

News of the death came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all "non-essential" businesses to close, effective Sunday evening, March 22. Essential services include medical, police, fire, water, sewer and food, including restaurants, which he said would be allowed to continue offering takeout service.

Cuomo said he knew the executive order would cause "disruption." 

"I accept full responsibility . . .," he said. "There is no one else who is responsible for this decision." 

Donna Scala, the manager of Laffey Real Estate’s Brookville office in East Norwich, said she is certain Cuomo’s directive will impact her business. She just isn’t certain by how much. But today at least she was busy, closing two deals. 

Laffey is offering virtual tours of its homes and photographs, since they can no longer bring potential buyers to the locations. 

“I haven’t had anyone want to buy that way but I have had people commit to rentals,” Scala said. “We had someone walk away from a deal and they were headed to contract. They were afraid because of the coronavirus.” 

Maybe they lost a large amount of money due to the virus, or maybe there was another reason. She isn’t certain. “Everyone is in the same boat,” she said. “My daughter was going to start her own business two weeks ago. Now she can’t.”

Barry Paley, an investor owner of Keller Williams Point North, in Woodbury, said he’s working harder than ever before since the outbreak of the coronavirus. He has stopped doing open houses like Scala. “I’m doing virtual open houses and virtual tours,” he said. “It’s important to cooperate with local governments.”

Business is great right now, he said, with the interest rate low. “I have buyers trying to buy and contracts going out. It’s just that people are doing it virtually,” he said. “It’s still a strong business environment.” 

The decision to shut down a majority of businesses would hurt, the governor said, and so he was ordering a halt to any residential or commercial evictions for 90 days.

Mass transit, he said, would remain operational in order to carry essential workers to their jobs.

Civil fines would be imposed on businesses that ignore the order. They might also be shut down indefinitely.

The governor reported that coronavirus cases continued to climb steadily to 7,102 statewide, with 18 percent of patients hospitalized.

The number of cases in Nassau stood at 754 as of Friday morning. Meanwhile, there were more than 4,400 cases in New York City.

Cuomo said the state was testing "more per capita" than China and South Korea, which, he said, explained a sudden spike in cases. The state, he said, had ramped up testing to more than 10,000 people a day.

The current rate of infection threatens to overwhelm hospitals, according to Cuomo. The rate is double the current hospital capacity, he said, and three times the intensive care unit capacity. Universities across the state, including SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Farmingdale, may serve as makeshift hospitals in the near future.

The closure of businesses, Cuomo said, would be for the "foreseeable future."

"This is not life as usual," he noted.