Weeks of worsening news on the spread of coronavirus through Nassau County are beginning to give way to data that shows the worst of COVID-19 in the county may have already come to pass, leaving many cautiously optimistic that better days are ahead.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that discharges of COVID-19 patients from county hospitals have outpaced new admissions for the 10th straight day at a press conference on Thursday, April 16. As of Wednesday night there were 2,339 coronavirus patients hospitalized in the county, down 138 from the day before.
“We stayed home, we did the right thing, we flattened the curve,” Curran said. “The numbers weren’t as bad as predicted just three weeks ago.”
Curran followed that happy proclamation by addressing when the county’s struggling businesses will be able to reopen and life will start to return to normal. Though a firm timeline is not yet in place, the county executive said Nassau will follow the lead of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the collective of nearby state leaders that are working to address restarting the economy on a regional level.
“We’re itching to get back to normal,” Curran said. “The economic devastation is very real, so we’re listening to the federal government and we’re following governor Andrew Cuomo and the coalition he’s put together of regional governments. It will take a lot of work to come back.”
A couple days prior, Curran referred to reopening the county’s economy as a “balancing act” that will need to take into consideration how Nassau’s health care system will handle the return to normalcy.
Curran also echoed Cuomo’s sentiment about the importance of widespread antibody testing, which the governor said would be “the single best tool to begin to safely reopen society.” The tests, which can determine if a person has previously been infected with coronavirus and since developed immunity, has been referred to by experts as crucial to finding out who can safely return to work down the line.
Curran said a finger-prick antibody test is in the process of being tested for approval at the Wadsworth Center laboratory of the New York State Department of Health as well as receiving emergency approval from the federal government, and that both processes are moving along quickly.
While antibody tests have become the focus of much recent attention, scientists have noted several problems that make them a less-than-100-percent-reliable method of screening for COVID-19 immunity. In a paper submitted to the White House by researchers with the National Academy of Sciences, experts noted that the presence of coronavirus antibodies may not necessarily indicate immunity to the illness. Furthermore, the scientists told the White House that while there are several antibody tests of wildly varying effectiveness floating around, none of them are being produced at levels sufficient to meet national production demands.