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$2.2 trillion of relief

Rescue effort

The House approved the sweeping measure by a voice vote, as strong majorities of both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation's history.

It will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small and push billions more to states, local governments and the nation's health care system.

For details of what could be in it for you, see this breakdown by Newsday Opinion data journalist Kai Teoh.

And if you want live updates from journalists and newsmakers themselves on all the latest coronavirus news, you can find them here.

Longer distance learning

Schools across the state will remain closed until at least April 15 as New York continues to battle a breakout of coronavirus that has made it a global hot spot, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.

The state had its worst day yet for coronavirus deaths, jumping by 134 — from 385 to 519, Cuomo said. And the number of confirmed coronavirus cases shot up, again, by more than 7,000, for a total of 44,635.

On Long Island, cases soared over 8,000, giving it nearly as many positive test results as South Korea.

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The COVID-19 numbers as of 4 p.m.: 4,657 confirmed cases in Nassau, 3,385 in Suffolk, 25,398 in New York City and 44,635 statewide.

Belmont arena work halted

Construction work on the new Islanders’ arena at Belmont Park was frozen on Friday as part of the state’s response to the outbreak.

Cuomo announced that "nonessential construction will be stopped" and efforts will focus on building four new hospitals in the New York City area, including at Aqueduct. He said the state needs to increase the number of hospital beds to 140,000 from 53,000.

Cuomo's executive order does not specify a time frame for the stoppage of nonessential construction. Essential construction is being defined as roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters.

Challenges for home health aides

The work is up close and personal: Home health aides help with patients’ daily needs such as bathing and getting dressed and using the bathroom.

It is also low-wage work: Home health aides typically get paid minimum wage, which is $13 an hour on Long Island. 

Now, people in the field say, aides are facing shortages of personal safety equipment and a lack of child care, as well as trying to juggle cancellations and transportation problems.

Mask marvels

While politicians race against the clock to source masks to protect New York health care workers, Long Islanders have not spared a minute in doing their part to procure them. 

Some rushed to social media, quickly mobilizing their networks to collect donations of the coveted N95 respirator masks to gift to hospital workers.

Others have gone as far as digging into their own pockets to buy masks from suppliers in other states to bring them home to first responders, nursing home and rehabilitation center staff, and other health care workers on the Island. 

This story is one in our series on neighbors helping neighbors. If you know of an LI Act of Kindness, let us know here.

At a loss for sports 

The ballparks and arenas are empty, the practice facilities are closed and networks are re-airing past games with known outcomes instead of live events.

There have been breaks in the action before, usually because of labor strife or wartime or political boycotts. But the global athletic hiatus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is somewhat unique, certainly in modern times.

Experts believe the sudden deprivation to sports fans — and participants — can contribute to anxiety or depression.

Tacos too many

It is that rarest of problems: a restaurant too busy to stay open. But that is exactly the problem Dirty Taco + Tequila had at both its Wantagh and Rockville Centre locations this week until owner Tom Cataldo Jr. pulled the plug.

His phones were ringing off the hook, and patrons were lining up 30 to 40 deep to pick up their food and drinks.

That created the very situation that led Cuomo to close restaurants in the first place.

Dirty Taco’s patrons also were becoming frustrated with ordering. And, Cataldo adds, “I don’t believe in tacos for takeout. They don’t travel well or reheat well. You make these great quality tacos, and then they end up upside-down and ice-cold …”

The shutdown has one silver lining — more time to work on the build out of Dirty Taco’s third location, set to open in May.

More to know

Long Beach's iconic beachside boardwalk will be closed indefinitely due to crowd-control concerns.

Business interruption insurance falls short during a pandemic because most policies exclude losses due to viruses or bacteria. 

LI's radio hosts are bonding with their listeners during the extended lockdown. 

Rhode Island is allowing its state police to stop vehicles with New York license plates, and the ACLU is crying foul.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive but remains in charge of the U.K.'s response to the outbreak.

Hundreds of thousands of 15-minute COVID-19 test kits will be ready to distribute in the United States by Monday, Melville-based Henry Schein Inc. says.

It's not just Broadway: Long Island high school musicals have gone dark, and students hope they'll still get their chance to shine. 

Fanatics, the company that makes uniforms for Major League Baseball, is using those fabrics to make masks and hospital gowns.

News for you

Get gardening: The weather was gorgeous today, and you know more spring weather is on the way (even though this weekend looks to be a washout.) Our garden detective Jessica Damiano offers tips and chores for every day in April.

Cocktails, wine, beer, food: For the brigade of out-of-work servers and bartenders — as well as struggling restaurant owners — the challenge of generating cash flow, or at least staying connected, has sparked creativity. Now you can learn from locals how to make a cocktail or appreciate wine or beer. And if you're looking to just buy some stuff that's already made, you can check out our guide to takeout on Long Island.

Questions? We've got answers to what you're asking about coronavirus.  

Plus: Experts give tips on decluttering four of the trickiest areas  of your house

Want to solve a murder mystery online?  You can figure out whodunit in the Killing Kompany of Levittown’s Virtual Comedy Mystery Show on Facebook.

Here's a curated compilation of what's new on Netflix. 

Feel like watching a 1970s movie?  Newsday film critic Rafer Guzman gives you nine of the best from that decade, but only ones that won't bum you out.

And if you're just looking for something to do, take a cruise around newsday.com's landing page highlighting upbeat ways to pass the time.

Commentary

Sane, sober in time of COVID-19

John missed his Monday 12-step meeting this week because of the coronavirus outbreak, writes Newsday Opinion columnist Lane Filler.

Since the meeting is at Suffolk County’s Yaphank correctional facility and John, sober for 13 years, runs it for inmates trying to construct a sober life, you might guess the loss is more theirs’ than his. 

But the meeting keeps John sane and sober, too. He does this service work, for them, for himself. It is a beautiful and daunting aspect of 12-step programs, that you cannot keep the gift of grateful and serene sobriety unless you work to pass on that gift.

Coronavirus is making that sharing far harder, but not impossible, to achieve.

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