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Coronavirus Update: 'Help Is Here,' Nassau Still Offering Mental Health And Substance Abuse Service

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Positive test results for coronavirus doubled overnight on Long Island.

"We knew that with the drive-thru testing and the increase in testing capacity that this number would increase significantly and that is exactly what is happening," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Those sentiments echoed in Suffolk, where County Executive Steve Bellone, himself, is under voluntary quarantine:

"Containment and, hopefully, mitigation effort to slow the spread of the virus," Bellone said. "Protecting our first responders as much as we can."

The parks were filled Wednesday with anxious residents, many who told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan they, too, are under voluntary quarantine and needed a break in the open air.

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"My wife is freaking out, 'don't talk to anybody, lock yourself up.' It's a terrible way to live," said Merrick resident Jeff Israel.

So Israel called his neighbor for a round of golf. It's better than staying home, stressing about the virus, they said.

"Especially before you go to bed at night because you end up just having nightmares," said Merrick resident Mike Schramm.

LIVE NOW: COVID-19 briefing

Posted by Laura Curran on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Medical providers are keeping Health and Human Resources counselors at the ready remotely, to help those dealing with isolation and loneliness.

"The beauty of all this is that we do have technology and technology allows us to connect," said Omayra Perez of the Nassau County Department of Human Resources.

"It's good to have music, but you also have your phone so you can call," said Hempstead resident Chris Flowers, who's under voluntary quarantine.

It is an unprecedented situation that we all are experiencing.

"I don't want to sugarcoat it. For people who are dealing with depression, who are dealing with addiction, they can go to very dark places right now," Curran said. "We're here to assure you that help is here, help is available. You just might not be getting it in the way that you're used to getting it."

Experts say beyond virtual help, stick to a schedule with your family. Daily routines supply stability and comfort.

"So I just thought why not invite some friends, go play the sport that we love. I know all the gyms are closed," said Alex Adelman of East Meadow club volleyball.

Strength, and shared sacrifice.

"The most important thing in all this, is going to be families, neighbors, and communities coming together, to check on one another. Not only how much toilet paper do you have but how are you feeling?" said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family & Children's Association.

County leaders are urging residents to be kind to one another, and to nurture a healthy dose of optimism as the outbreak continues to unfold.


Curran said the county's departments of social services, mental health and substance abuse remain fully open.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings have been postponed, but there are virtual options.

"Already in a very short amount of time, we've seen that those folks who have some preexisting mental health conditions and those folks who are struggling with substance use disorders -- and remember, this is ground zero for the opioid crisis -- are struggling sooner than we ever thought and at a higher level than we ever thought," said Reynolds. "We understand that folks who relied on large gatherings are no longer able to go to get that support. We're using technology to the fullest extent to reach people not once a week in a face-to-face session but every hour if need be."

The county executive urged people in domestic violence situations to reach out for help.

The behavioral help crisis hotline is available 24/7 at 1-516-227-TALK (8255).

Curran also encouraged people who typically see mental health providers to stay in touch with their offices.

"You don't necessarily have to have an underlying mental health issue to feel the strain of this unprecedented situation that we're all sharing," she added. "We have all changed our routines."

Curran recommended keeping a schedule that works for your family, including avoiding procrastination and making sure to exercise.

"You can come to one of our beautiful parks... We have record golf attendance. It's the best place to practice social distancing," she said. "Get some sunshine, get some fresh air, it's so good for you."

She added, "small kindnesses go a long way."

"If you bought too much toilet paper and your neighbor didn't buy enough, give them some. It will make you feel good. It will make them feel good," she added. "Those small kindnesses give you a feeling of control over your environment at a time when many of us don't feel like we have that control."

Click here for more information on the county's mental health services.

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