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As Long Island Reopens, Focus Shifts To Economy

Office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stands outside Sir Shave barbershop in Wyandanch on Wednesday.

Long Island has entered Phase Two of reopening its economy. Some hair salons, barbershops and in-store retail have reopened with strict guidelines.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says the county is prepared to combat any potential spike in coronavirus cases. He joined other elected officials for a virtual town hall as Long Island enters Phase Two of reopening.

Bellone says the county has two advantages: plenty of testing capacity and a robust contact tracing program. 

“The mistake that some other states made is they just reopened and they did it without having the testing scaled up or the contact tracing that’s necessary to really monitor that.”

Bellone says it’s possible that Long Island could enter Phase Three ahead of schedule. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow shopping malls to reopen sooner, in Phase Two instead of Phase Four. She says a quicker reopening would boost the economy. 

Curran says the businesses that are reopening accounted for 200,000 jobs before the pandemic.

“My concern, our concern, and what I’m hearing from business owners is that some of these jobs won’t come back, at least not any time soon which is why we have to reopen safely and swiftly. It’s so important.”

Curran says the county has worked with the state to develop loan programs to help cover the cost of reopening and keeping up the momentum of economic recovery. 

She says some businesses have also started to create outdoor spaces for customers who don’t feel comfortable waiting indoors.

Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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