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Nassau and Suffolk counties declare a state of emergency

Long island has 69 confirmed cases

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Nassau and Suffolk counties declared a state of emergency after the number of coronavirus cases on Long Island reached 69, 48 in Nassau and 21 in Suffolk.

There are 34 cases in the Town of Hempstead, 10 in the Town of North Hempstead and four in the Town of Oyster Bay

"As testing ramps up, we expect the number of cases to increase", Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said during a March 13 news conference. Curran said that all county recreational and arts and culture venues are being closed.

Town of Hempstead Supevisor Donald Clavin said, "We don't want the residents to be scared, we want them to be prepared," at the same news conference.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at a March 12 news conference that a state of emergency declaration will "allow county government to more quickly respond to the emergency."

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global pandemic on March 11. A day ago, all major sports in the United States from the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the NCAA  suspended or delayed their seasons.

President Donald Trump said a travel ban to several European Union countries will get under way midnight Friday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of energencyseveral days ago, and there is plan to contain the virus in New Rochelle, where the most cases have been confirmed in New York, which has 216 cases statewide.

Cuomo said he expected the number of coronavirus cases to climb as the state conducted more tests for the virus. Northwell Health and Stony Brook University Hospital are aiding in testing patients. 

Nassau's first confirmed case of coronavirus was a 42-year-old man who works at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, according to Uniondale School District and Mercy officials.

Uniondale Superintendent Dr. William Lloyd said in a statement on March 6, "The district has been in close contact with Nassau County and New York state health officials, and we have been told that at the current time, there is no reason to take any additional precautionary or preventive measures than those we already have in place." 

Authorities said the man is a part-time employee at Mercy, and they were reviewing with whom he came in contact. Officials said they were unsure how he contracted the illness, but he had not been to work at the hospital for a week.

He was being treated at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, officials said.

In a statement to the Herald, Mercy Medical Center said the New York State Department of Health notified the hospital of the case on March 3.  The man last worked an eight-hour shift at Mercy toward the end of February when he was not exhibiting symptoms, the statement said. 

Mercy's infection prevention specialists were conducting a contact investigation with people the man may have been in contact with, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Mercy officials said. They also noted that Catholic Health Services, which Mercy falls under, is "prepared to diagnose and treat patients showing symptoms of COVID-19 while also taking the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease."

“The health system is prepared, and prevention and control protocols are in place to appropriately isolate patients who enter its facilities to prevent the potential transmission of infection,” said Patrick O’Shaughnessy, CHS’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer. “All CHS clinical personnel are educated on the latest CDC and New York State Department of Health coronavirus guidelines and recommendations.

Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, the Nassau County health commissioner, said on Friday, "We're doing a case-contact investigation, which is what our disease investigators do.

"We’re going to interview them and their family and identify whoever they’ve been in contact with and make recommendations based on exposure or not exposure," he continued.

"We want people to be calm," Eisenstein said. "We want people to go about their usual business. It is cold and flu season without the presence of coronavirus, and it’s a respiratory virus. What works for cold and flu prevention also works for coronavirus prevention."

Most important, people should thoroughly wash their hands — up to 20 seconds — and limit physical contact such as handshaking and hugging.

And, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, "If you're sick, stay home."

"We're taking every step necessary to keep our residents healthy and safe," Curran tweeted.

She added, "Reminder: If you're sick, call your healthcare provider before visiting. They'll direct you on next steps."