Long Island official says emotional toll of coronavirus won't be known 'until after this is long done'

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Suffolk County, N.Y., Executive Steve Bellone told “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday that the emotional toll of the coronavirus pandemic cannot yet be fully understood.

“I'm having conversations I never imagined that we would have every day on our emergency operations center calls,” Bellone said. “We talk about what our morgue capacity is and [whether] we have enough body bags.”

"We can see the death tolls and they are horrific," Bellone added, "but I think to a great extent, what we can’t see, the emotional toll, is going to be even greater at the end of the day on families, on people who have lost loved ones and haven't been able to be with them while they are dying in hospitals.”

“That toll, I don't think we will fully understand until after this is long done,” Bellone continued.


New York State has reported the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. with more than 138,000 positive cases and 5,400 deaths, according to the New York Department of Health. As of Tuesday, Suffolk County, which comprises the eastern part of Long Island, is reporting 14,517 positive coronavirus cases and 266 deaths.

“We always had the sense we were about seven to 14 days behind what was happening in New York City, but we can really see it in the numbers now,” Bellone said. “Every day the number of positive patients rises by more than a thousand, we’re seeing hospitalizations continue to rise every day and of course the death toll continues to go up.”

During a White House press briefing on Sunday, President Trump said at the request of Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., the White House will deliver “200,000 N95 masks to Suffolk County, where they need it very badly.” Trump noted that the N95 face mask respirators were expected to arrive on Monday.

When host Ed Henry asked Bellone where Suffolk County stands on masks and ventilators, he said, “We've been working very closely with [New York] Governor [Andrew] Cuomo, who I think has provided great leadership, and he is working with the president and the issue is about bringing resources into New York so that they can be here in Suffolk County and the other places that need those resources.”

The official said that personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, are a critical need and noted that Suffolk County also needs gowns.


Bellone added that President Trump's mention of Suffolk County at Sunday’s White House press briefing "means a lot to the first responders here [and] to the frontline health care workers.”

The Democrat said that having a commitment from the White House “to help make sure that we have the resources on the ground is really important.”

“We want to win the fight here in Suffolk County and have a blueprint for how we can win it all across the country,” Bellone said.