This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Credit: NIAID-RML

The number of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus on Long Island increased to 18 and is expected to continued to rise, officials announced Monday morning.

Update: Coronavirus Cases on Long Island Increase To 20

The number of cases in Nassau County increased from five to 17 since Sunday morning, although officials noted that the speedy increase is partly due to the Northwell Health Imaging at the Center for Advanced Medicine being authorized to conduct coronavirus tests, creating a quicker turnaround time. Suffolk County officials say they still have one coronavirus case and one person who was in contact with that patient is quarantined. Disease detectives are tracking the contacts of each patient.

“Our No. 1 priority is the health of our residents,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Monday during a news conference in Mineola.

The development came as the number of cases in New York State increased to 142 and topped 500 nationwide, including 22 deaths. The new LI total does no include an Uber driver from Queens who New York City officials said had driven around LI.

Hofstra University and the Shoreham-Wading River School District cancelled classes Monday as a precaution. That came after a Hofstra student who attended a conference with a coronavirus patient came down with repertory illness symptoms. And a Shoreham-Wading River school employee reported their spouse may have the coronavirus.

To show just how quickly the number of cases is increasing, at 9:30 a.m. Curran announced cases increased from five to 13. About an hour later during a county legislature health committee hearing on coronavirus preparedness, Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein told the panel that there were now 17 cases. And shortly before noon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated that cases will only go up as tests continue with efforts to contain the outbreak.

Dr. Eisenstein urged the public to not panic, but cautioned those with compromised immune systems should avoid large crowds.

“I want us to continue to go about our lives, but use common sense,” he said.

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