It’s been over a month since Glen Cove Hospital checked in a Covid-19 patient, surrounded by a community with an infection rate less than 1 percent. One patient, who has tested negative for Covid-19, remained in recovery from the virus in the hospital’s rehab unit in mid-August.
“We’re preparing, God forbid, we have a second round in the fall,” said Kerri Ann Scanlon, the executive director of Glen Cove Hospital. “But we know so much more about what we can do to prevent the spread — masks, six feet social distance, wash your hands, Purell gel. The basics really matter.”
According to metrics from Newsday, Glen Cove has had one positive case of the virus within a seven-day span as of Aug. 23. Oyster Bay has seen three new positive cases and there has been one positive in Locust Valley, two positives in Old Brookville, zero in Oyster Bay Cove and in Sea Cliff, one in Glenwood Landing and one in Glen Head [see sidebar].
But even with cases of coronavirus remaining low in the North Shore, medical professionals are saying that social distancing, wearing facial coverings and paying extra attention to cleanliness and hygiene should not be thrown out the window just yet.
“If somebody comes that hasn’t been quarantined from outside the state that has Covid, we don’t want someone to get it and then it passes forward,” Scanlon said. “We’re right now, still as a nation, in Phase One. Thank God in New York the numbers have gone down so low, less than one percent, but we want to make sure that that number stays low.”
And this remains especially true as children go back to school in coming weeks, Dr. Greg Gulbransen, a pediatrician in Oyster Bay, said. He strongly suggests children wear high quality masks as they return to school.
“We haven’t seen active cases of Covid in a couple of months which is a good thing because there’s so little of it around,” Gulbransen said. “The pandemic has made for a very stressful time emotionally for children. And we’ve seen quite a few cases of anxiety and depression that we typically see this time of year.”
Gulbransen added that he’s had to make many referrals for psychologists and psychiatrics and he’s even had a few cases where children had to sent to an emergency room for mental health emergencies.
“I do think that part of this is the pandemic causing a lot of stress and children are having a difficult time adjusting to this crazy, lockdown lifestyle,” Gulbransen said. “But, that’s what you have to do to keep the numbers down. So, it comes as a trade off.”
Gulbransen said he agreed with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation for children to return to schools in the fall.
“At least give it a try,” he said, adding that schools should practice all local, state and national health guidelines. “All the children in my office wear a mask above the age of two. They just seem to get along with it. We have this new lifestyle of wearing masks and we’ve all adjusted to it.”
The pediatrician cited the rollout of a potential coronavirus vaccine, as researchers across the world work on developing and testing a safe vaccination to stop the virus, as being a likely way to return back to normal.
“Think about how amazing 2021 is going to be,” Gulbransen said. “The school year is going to end on a much more positive note than it began. I can tell you that.”
Since March, the pandemic has rocked the North Shore community as it did for the entire state. In fact, Glen Cove has had 975 cumulative cases of Covid-19 according to the Nassau County Department of Information Technology.
Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke gave credit to the residents of the city for bringing those numbers down. “It’s really the effort of the citizens here in Glen Cove to wear a mask and to follow the rules to make sure that Covid does not spread,” Tenke said. “One of the last things we want to see is a reversal of all the progress that we’ve made and I think that having low numbers when school begins is a positive thing because the fewer people that are infected, the fewer chances that someone is carrying it into the schools.”
And as cases of Covid-19 diminished, the Glen Cove Hospital has been able to shut down units that were caring for patients from the North Shore community and patients from hospitals that Scanlon said was “under siege,” like North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.
“Come to the hospital,” Scanlon said, which is returning to what she called a new normal. “We have an emergency room that’s first class, world class patient experience. It’s safe. All private rooms. And I would tell people to not delay on things that they have; chest pains, bad headaches that could be something more, high blood pressure, pain in their abdomen. They need to get to an emergency room and be evaluated.”