Newsday is providing all readers with access to this breaking news blog on important developments about the coronavirus and our community.
- How Long Island businesses are handling Phase 2 reopening.
- Nassau OTB fails to make $5 million payment to county, cites lost revenue due to pandemic.
- Coronavirus testing on LI has nearly doubled since mid-May.
Wednesday afternoon updates
Curran touts ‘major milestone’ in Phase 2 start
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Wednesday’s Phase 2 reopening on Long Island was “another major milestone” as the region continues its economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Before the crisis hit, she said, businesses included in Phase 2 accounted for about 200,000 jobs across Long Island.
Her enthusiasm was tempered, though, by concerns that “some of these jobs won’t come back, at least not anytime soon.”
Curran reiterated that the county is supporting small businesses with loan programs, an initiative to provide them with personal protective equipment, and other strategies. Small businesses can go to boostnassau.net for help, she said.
Curran also offered a reminder that outside-facing stores at shopping malls are now allowed to be open. Though she has pushed for the malls themselves to be reopened under Phase 2, they won't be allowed to reopen until Phase 4, probably in July. — NEWSDAY STAFF
Curran: 4 of county’s 6 pools to reopen July 3
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced Wednesday that four of the county’s six pools will open July 3.
The pools are at Cantiague, North Woodmere, Wantagh and Christopher Morley parks – and Curran said she is moving to limit access to the pools to county residents.
“Our residents should have priority at our pools considering we will have reduced capacity,” she said.
Curran said the county is awaiting guidance from state on two beach pools at Nickerson Beach Park.
She said there were 35 new cases of coronavirus among 4,210 people tested in 24 hours – a positive rate of about 0.8%. “That’s a big deal,” she said, noting that two months ago, there were 2,500 new cases in a single day, with about 50% of those tested having the virus.
Curran said there were 134 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county, a one-day decrease of 14, and that five more people have died of COVID-19. – NEWSDAY STAFF
LIRR has 28,089 riders on NYC’s reopening day
The Long Island Rail Road counted 28,089 commuters on Monday, when Phase 1 of the New York City’s reopening began. The number equaled 13% of the railroad’s pre-COVID-19 ridership — up from a low of just 3% at the height of the pandemic.
After running on a reduced schedule for more than two months, the LIRR on Monday restored most of its regular weekday service, while also introducing new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including the distribution of masks and hand sanitizer at key stations, and the use of floor markers at stations to keep riders 6 feet apart.
The railroad is also continuing efforts to disinfect its trains and stations daily. LIRR president Phillip Eng said the combined measures allow “all that need to use the LIRR an added level of comfort with additional capacity and options to safely travel.” – ALFONSO A. CASTILLO
Dining along Southampton's Main Street
Tables along Southampton’s Main Street were once again filled with customers looking to enjoy and al fresco Hamptons lunch. Upscale boutiques were once again open, although some offered virtual tours instead and a handful of storefronts were empty. A few boutiques displayed signs in favor of the Black Lives Matter on a street where just days earlier hundreds of protestors lay face down in the road.
Local officials and businesspeople gathered at 75 Main restaurant for a champagne toast to celebrate the reopening. Onlookers wore white pants and strappy sandals with one donning a white N95 mask with the Chanel symbol drawn on.
“I couldn’t find a parking spot and that felt a little bit like things are getting back to normal,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman before raising a champagne flute in the air.
75 Main owner Zach Erdem said he had been delivering his own food since the pandemic began and business took a hit. On Wednesday, however, he was thrilled to welcome diners back to his establishment.
“Today I became a businessman [again]. I dressed up nice,“ he said. “It’s been really tough for all of us.”
Erdem’s staff wore masks although diners mostly did not. – VERA CHINESE
Life starts returning to Long Beach
The Bright Eye Beer Co. in Long Beach held its grand opening at the end of February, but the new brewery only had a few weekends where customers packed their tap room. The brewery expanded Wednesday to five outdoor tables on Park Avenue, allowed by Phase 2, but still limited to about 10 to 15 people.
The brewery has kept afloat by transitioning to canning its microbrew beer and continuing to fill growlers during the pandemic. “It’s something. It’s bringing a little life back to the tap room,” brewery owner Luke Heneghan said.
At Majestic Barber at the corner of Park and National Boulevard, Nicola Oricchio was cutting hair where he has for 58 years since arriving from Italy.
A line of customers waited outside for more than 30 minutes while Oricchio started up his clippers.
“I found out from a friend my barbershop could reopen today,” Oricchio said. “I missed my friends and customers. They’re the best in the world.”
Down the street, the Long Beach Surf Shop reopened its store for the first time after limiting sales to online and curbside orders.
Customers flocked to buy surfboards, sandals and wetsuits at the Park Avenue store. Owner Luke Hamlet said it’s the longest time they’ve been closed since they first opened 32 years ago.
“There’s a lot of pent up demand and a lot of people haven’t worked or been at home, so they just want to do something,” Hamlet said. “Even after Sandy, we could do something to immediately work to reopen. This was a little more uncertain.” – JOHN ASBURY
Watch Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s press briefing:
One hair salon opens carefully
Natashia Jere, 34, was greeted by familiar faces at her Freeport salon Jere Hair when she reopened at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Long Island’s first day in Phase 2. “It was like best friends starting back where you left off,” she said of greeting “regular” clients she hasn’t seen in about three months.
“A lot of regulars are excited to get back,” she added. They’re most eager for treatments. “I specialize in natural hair, cut and color. With textured hair, they can do their best at home but professionals have tools and products they can’t have access to.”
Jere, who operates her salon out of Trimz Barbershop on Guy Lombardo Avenue, spaced out her appointments to ease back into things. Safety regulations allowing her to now only work on one client at a time have reduced her daily customers to a total of three, down from seven to 10, for the time being.
“It does affect our income,” she said. “It is a little uncomfortable, unfortunately, but we’re adjusting to that.”
Other changes Jere has enforced at the salon include required face masks, no walk-in appointments, hand sanitizing stations and temperature checks before clients can enter. – MEGAN GIANNOTTA
Cuomo: Time to pivot to re-energizing economy while monitoring COVID-19
As Long Island entered Phase 2 of the reopening, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo focused his attention on moving forward simultaneously on two goals: monitoring the reopening and energizing it.“Let’s set the bar higher,” Cuomo said Wednesday, speaking from LaGuardia Airport, which is being renovated and where he cut a ribbon.
The numbers to watch now are the daily coronavirus testing results, Cuomo said. New York conducts 50,000 tests every day, he said, and “using that data you can monitor what’s happening on a daily basis” to see if the reopening is happening without a viral spread.
“We have to double down on our diligence,” he said, emphasizing that individuals, employers and local governments have the responsibility “to make sure everything is working well.”
On re-energizing the economy, the governor encouraged the state to take on large-scale development projects, including accelerating $2 billion in MTA capital projects and continuing renovations at LaGuardia. -- NEWSDAY STAFF
Watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefing:
De Blasio urges NYers to get tested as economy starts reopening
With New York City in Phase 1 of its economic reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged all New Yorkers to get tested for the coronavirus.
“We’ve waited for this day,” de Blasio said, referring to the city entering Phase 1 on Monday. But, he noted, now more people are coming into contact with one another.
The city has launched two mobile testing trucks and plans to have 10 deployed by next month, the mayor said. It has also added six new community testing partners and will provide test kits to hospitals. Three thousand kits will be sent “immediately” to Staten Island hospitals, he said. – NEWSDAY STAFF
A few shoppers in Deer Park
As Long Island entered Phase 2 of reopening Wednesday , a few shoppers walked outdoors at Tanger Outlets in Deer Park. Many of the stores, however, did not open their doors.
Ahmed Zada, 40, of Islip, drove to the outlets with the hope of returning shoes at Nike. He was out of luck - the store was still boarded up.“The site said they were opening, but I guess not,” Zada said. “I’d rather not have to go through mailing these back.”
Tanger said earlier this week that some stores would open Wednesday, while others would wait until the weekend or next week. --DAVID REICH-HALE
Northwell: COVID-19 admissions down to single digits
Northwell Health on Wednesday reported COVID-19-related admissions were in the single digits for the second straight day. The New Hyde Park-based health system said it hospitalized nine coronavirus patients over the last 24 hours at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates.
Three of those patients were at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Northwell said it had six COVID-19 admissions the day before. Northwell said it had 367 COVID-19 patients in total, down 29% from the same period a week ago. The hospital system has reported a week-over-week drop at every Long Island hospital.
Three hospitals had fewer than 10 COVID-19 patients: Plainview Hospital with nine patients, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead had six and Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson had one.
Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, two hospitals that were near hot spot areas such as Brentwood, Bay Shore and the Queens-Nassau border, have also seen large recent reductions in cases.Southside has 16 cases, while Valley Stream has 10. – DAVID REICH-HALE