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LI COVID-19 cases top 600 as Nassau launches 'traveling vaccine' program for businesses

Angel Human, an employee at Cafe Baci in

Angel Human, an employee at Cafe Baci in Westbury, gets a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

This story was reported by Bart Jones, Victor Ocasio, David Olson, Tory Parrish, Jean-Paul Salamanca and John Valenti. It was written by Jones.

Long Island has surpassed 600 new daily cases of COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, while Nassau County launched a "traveling vaccine" program Tuesday to try to get shots into some of the thousands of people who remain unprotected.

Nassau County registered 315 new cases in test results from Monday, while Suffolk County had 309, for a total of 624 in the region, state data released Tuesday showed.

As recently as June, Long Island was well below 100 new daily cases.

New York City, where cases are also on the rise, registered 1,444 new cases in results from Monday.

Other COVID-19 indicators continued to increase, with the seven-day average for positivity in test results surpassing 3% on Long Island for the second day in a row.

The average has risen in the last three days on Long Island, from 2.92% to 3.03% to 3.24%. On June 29, the level was 0.35%.

The statewide level has gone from 2.46% to 2.53% to 2.65% in the last three days.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state increased on Monday by 64 patients, to 852.

Throughout the state, five people, including one in Nassau, died on Monday of causes linked to the virus.

What to know

Long Island had a total of 624 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — 315 in Nassau County and 309 in Suffolk County, state data shows.

Throughout the state, five people died on Monday of causes linked to the coronavirus, including one in Nassau County.

Nassau County will institute a new "traveling" vaccination program to bring inoculations directly to businesses throughout the county, so employees and their families can join the ranks of the vaccinated.

"The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID, but too many still have not taken advantage of its availability," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. "Every single unvaccinated individual provides the virus an opportunity to mutate into a strain that may be even more harmful than those that came before it."

'Traveling vaccine' program

Nassau County will institute a new "traveling" vaccination program to bring the vaccine to businesses so employees and their families can get shots, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday in announcing the program outside Cafe Baci in Westbury.

There will be no business mandate on vaccination requirements for employees or patrons, with that decision left up to business owners, Curran and Nassau County Health Commissioner Lawrence E. Eisenstein said.

"I believe business owners can make this decision for themselves," Curran said.

According to the latest figures, 68.8% of all Nassau residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 61.9% fully vaccinated.

But the current positive test level is now about 3.3% in Nassau.

All employees and family members, regardless of immigration status, are eligible, Curran said. Nassau uses the two-dose Moderna vaccine.

"Big business, small business, our goal is to get 100 percent of residents vaccinated," Curran said.

Appointments are available at 516-227-9570.

Businesses support plan

David Mandell, who operates six grocery stores, including a Holiday Farms supermarket in Roslyn Heights and one in Glen Head, said he would consider having Nassau’s mobile vaccination program at his markets if space permitted.

"We don’t have big parking lots," he said. None of his stores has a pharmacy, Mandell said.

Most of Mandell’s 250 employees are vaccinated, but he is not requiring it because he is unsure of the legal ramifications, he said.

Employees and customers who are not vaccinated are asked to wear masks in Mandell’s stores, he said.

Robert C. Creighton, managing partner of commercial law firm Farrell Fritz in Uniondale, called the county’s program a "step in the right direction."

"We’re all looking for the best way to prevent the transmission of the virus in the workplace," said Creighton, whose firm has 154 employees and represents business clients across the Island, New York City and nationwide.

"Getting people vaccinated is key, so I would welcome the program the county executive is rolling out as I understand it and don’t think there’s a downside to it," he said.

The firm is now mostly back in the office — except for some remote workers — and has encouraged employees to get the shot. Although most have been vaccinated, employees who haven’t received the vaccine are required to wear masks in the office.

He said the firm was considering a mandatory testing policy for unvaccinated workers "very soon" as the number of positive cases rises. "I think that’s something more and more businesses are leaning toward," he said.

"We’re looking for the best way to prevent transmission in the workplace," Creighton said. "There’s no question that the best way is vaccination."

Shots for farmworkers

In Riverhead, officials are partnering with farm advocacy groups and nonprofits to drive vaccination rates up among town residents, seniors and agricultural workers.

Riverhead, the Long Island Farm Bureau and the North Fork Spanish Apostolate will distribute vaccines to those groups ages 12 and older on Aug. 12-13 at the Riverhead Senior Center in Aquebogue.

Long Island Farm Bureau president Rob Carpenter said outdoor working conditions may have helped to protect most farmworkers from becoming infected. But it is important to offer vaccines to the agricultural community, he said.

"We believe the farmers and farmworkers make up a vital part of the town of Riverhead, and we want to do everything we can to assure the safety of the farmers and workers," Carpenter said.

Vaccinations will be at the senior center, located at 60 Shade Tree Lane, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Preregistration is required by calling Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar's office at 631-727-3200, ext. 653, or the Riverhead Senior Center at ext. 290. They can also preregister at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFRC6R8.

Long Island FQHC, which offers COVID-19 vaccinations at five of its nonprofit health centers in Nassau, will offer prize drawings starting Aug. 8 to people getting newly vaccinated. The prizes are tablets, $50 Visa gift cards and seven-day-unlimited-ride MetroCards, said David Nemiroff, president and CEO of Long Island FQHC, which focuses services on medically underserved parts of Nassau.

"We need everybody to be vaccinated so we can reduce the spread of COVID," Nemiroff said. "The delta variant is very contagious, and vaccinations are a way to make sure our communities are safe and healthy."

The five health centers are in Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Roosevelt and Westbury.

Long Island FQHC already is discussing possible incentives with supermarkets, hair salons, mini-golf venues and other businesses, he said. The organization already offers free Uber rides to its health centers for people getting vaccinated.

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