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Suffolk Community College mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Brentwood closing

Licensed practical nurse Sandra Reeve, left, holds an

Licensed practical nurse Sandra Reeve, left, holds an alcohol swab on the arm of grocery worker Joseph Lupo after administering the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination to Lupo at an arena on the campus of Suffolk County Community College, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Brentwood. Credit: AP/Kathy Willens

Faced with declining demand for vaccinations, New York State is shutting down three mass vaccination sites, including one at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The closures will take effect after vaccinations are given on Friday.

Cuomo has said the state will shift its focus to other efforts, including smaller pop-up sites in locations where the vaccination rates are low.

The state is also closing the mass vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan, as well as one in upstate Ulster.

The most recent statistics released by the state show 72.7% of New Yorkers 18 and older have received at least one vaccine dose and 66.1% ages 18 and over have completed their vaccination program.

What to know

  • New York State is shutting down three mass vaccination sites, including one at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. The closures will take effect after vaccinations are given on Friday.
  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state will shift its focus to other efforts, including smaller pop-up sites in locations where the vaccination rates are low.
  • Also on Wednesday, Cuomo signed legislation that allows restaurants to use sidewalks, streets and other municipal spaces for outdoor dining for another year.

As of Wednesday morning, 87,720 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at the Suffolk County Community College site, according to the state Health Department.

On April 28, 1,669 doses were administered at the site. But that number dropped in recent weeks, with only 242 doses administered on June 17.

"As we continue our mission to make the vaccine accessible in every community and to focus our efforts on the areas with lower vaccination rates, we are proceeding with the downscaling of mass vaccination sites so that we can shift resources to where they are needed the most," Cuomo said in a statement.

On the same day the state announced it was closing its site in Brentwood, the Town of Islip and Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip opened a new weekly vaccination site in the hamlet.

But in another sign of the drop in vaccinations on Long Island and elsewhere in recent weeks, the site at the Brentwood Recreation Center had only a single appointment on Wednesday, said Justin Jaycon, a Good Samaritan spokesman.

The hope is that a news conference Wednesday about the site will yield appointments for future weeks, he said.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the closure of the state site could send more people to the recreation center, which is located in a more walkable area of Brentwood than the college, as well as being near bus stops and familiar to local residents.

The site will be open every Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m., initially by appointment only. If demand warrants, more days could be added, and there could be walk-up hours, Jaycon said.

"We’re giving them easy access to get it," he said. "It’s going to be the only drive-through site on the South Shore of Suffolk, so we’re hoping that makes them more interested — just allowing more convenience to get the vaccine."

Jaycon said word is being spread about the site through English and Spanish social media posts and flyers distributed in the community, and Carpenter said she’s sent letters to area organizations, churches, chambers, civic associations and libraries.

"We have to keep drilling home that everyone has to get vaccinated before we’re inundated with that delta strain," Carpenter said, referring to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday is now responsible for a majority of the nation’s COVID-19 cases.

The site had been a COVID-19 testing site since November until it reopened Wednesday as a vaccination center.

New cases of COVID-19 in the state remained low, according to statistics released on Wednesday. There were 486 new cases out of 51,237 test results received by the state on Tuesday for a daily positivity rate of .095%. Nassau County accounted for 37 of the new cases, and 31 were in Suffolk County.

None of the five COVID-19 deaths recorded by the state on Tuesday were from Long Island.

Also on Wednesday, Cuomo signed legislation that allows restaurants to use sidewalks, streets and other municipal spaces for outdoor dining for another year. It's the extension of a practice Cuomo enacted one year ago, through an executive order, to help eateries since indoor dining was prohibited for months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This has been a shot in the arm for businesses because regulations limited them … so it's been fantastic to have this outdoor space," said Eric Alexander, founder of the Long Island Main Street Alliance, a coalition of 45 downtowns. "It creates street life. When you see people coming together in a place, there is an electricity … it does so many other things than just having a table outside."

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