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Third coronavirus death reported in Nassau County

Officials warn scam calls are on the rise

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A third person has died of coronavirus in Nassau, according to County Executive Laura Curran. The victim was a 76-year-old woman who lived in the Town of Hempstead. Curran did not say where she died.

As of Thursday morning, Nassau had 293 reported cases of coronavirus. Some of those people have recovered from their illness, Curran noted. 

Testing capactities have increased "dramatically" over the last few days, according to County Health Commissioner Lawrence Eistenstein, with tests now being administered at commercial laboratories. The County Health Department often receives these results in "batches," and health officials must individually verify each case. 

Testing is only being offered to those who show symptoms, such as a fever, and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, Eisenstein added. Those with "close-contact" cases but with no symptoms are not being offered testing at this time. 

The New York State Department  of Health hotline — (888) 364-3065 — is the only way to get an appointment for testing at the Jones Beach testing site for Nassau residents, Eisenstein said. It is open 24 hours, seven days a week. 

"As the days go by, the number [of cases] are going to rise, and some days it will rise more than others," Eisenstein said. "Thank you to the residents who heeded the warning to stay away from other people. This is absolutely a life-saving measure right now." 

On Tuesday, officials announced the first two coronavirus deaths in Nassau.

An 83-year-old man from Queens died at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside and a 96-year-old man died at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre on Monday, Curran said. It was not immediately clear which town the 96-year-old man was from, but he was a county resident. At the time, the county had 139 cases of coronavirus.

Curran announced the third death at a news conference on the steps of the County Legislature and Executive Building in Mineola on Thursday morning. She also highlighted a growing number of phone scams, which usually target seniors and are now using tactics involving coronavirus. 

On Tuesday, the county received a report of a retiree who was called by someone claiming to be a coronavirus hotline, with requests for his personal Medicare information. Another woman, a senior, received a call from a scammer acting as a representative of their local bank, targeting her banking information by claiming her bank is closing due to coronavirus. 

Scam call cases in Nassau have increased by 49 percent over the last year, according to NCPD Comissioner Patrick Ryder, who also attended the news conference.

"Nobody's going to ask for your ID or information over the phone," Ryder said. "Don't even answer the phone unless you know the number that's calling you."

"Coronavirus scams target your fear. Our message is, don't let them," Curran said. 

The county is also launching an app to send Nassau residents offical coronavirus-related alerts. To access it, text COVID19NC to 888777. 

The county executive said officials are mindful of the need for residents to maintain their mental health under trying circumstances. "If you're struggling with depression, addiction or domestic violence at home, know that we are still here for you," she tweeted.

She gave a number to call: (516) 227-TALK.