County exec on virus: “No reason to panic”

Six cases confirmed in Suffolk


Suffolk County confirmed six cases of the novel coronavirus, five of which were people being hospitalized in isolation. As of Wednesday, the county had 72 people in precautionary quarantine, including 22 students in isolation at Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus who recently returned from abroad, though none of the students were symptomatic.

“All of this is prudence and precaution, making sure we’re doing everything we can to contain the virus as much as we can,” County Executive Steve Bellone said at a press conference Monday.

Bellone added that the county was closely monitoring the virus and that people should expect the number of cases to rise as more tests were performed. The county has done 18 tests so far, with some results still pending. Bellone tried to assure the public that the virus, which has received increas- ing attention during its spread in the United States, is not a cause for panic. He said the attention was due to the virus’ being new and not because of dire circumstances.

“There is no reason to panic here, to be overly concerned,” he said.

The county recently held a roundtable with all departments to go over response to the virus and prepare for various scenarios. The county is also restricting nonessential travel for government employees. Bellone added that the county is in frequent contact with the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state health department to get the latest informa- tion on the virus.

“All levels of government are coor- dinating here,” he continued.

Bellone said that testing for the virus was somewhat limited at this point and the county would work to improve the process with the CDC and state health department. People who feel sick will not be able to just go to the doctor and get tested. A test must be recommended by a medical professional in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

County officials advised senior citizens to avoid public gatherings and to exercise caution.

“Working together, we will get through this,” Bellone added.

For more information and directives from the county, visit

Local legislators respond

“Right now the message is precau- tion, not panic. The Suffolk County Health Department has been on top of this from the start, and there has been an ongoing coordinated response from county agencies. The most important thing right now is to contain the virus, and to that end we encourage the com- munity to help us spread the word about easy preventive actions we all can take, the simplest being to wash your hands frequently and stay home if you feel sick. If we all follow the proper protocols, we will be in the best posi- tion to protect ourselves and others.” —Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), Presiding Officer, Suffolk County Legislature

“They continue to urge that we don’t panic but that we take precautions: washing your hands, limiting contact with individuals who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms ... for those who have compromised immune systems from an existing ailment, continue to not expose themselves to large public gatherings where they may be susceptible to contracting any sort of bug. We have our first confirmed case in Suffolk County; the health department is actively investigating that case to determine what sort of exposure the public has based on this individual’s employment and other activities.” — Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-District 10).

“Take the precautions just like the flu in the sense of washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing.” — Legis. Steve Flotteron (R-District 11)


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