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Masks can drive down NY death rate, study shows

Masks matter, experts say 

A study of data from New York by Arizona State University researchers suggests that immediate “broad adoption,” by 80% of New Yorkers, in using "moderately" effective face masks could have a significant impact on the spread of disease, along with other social distancing methods.

Even “very weak masks” that are 20% effective help in blocking the virus, it concluded.      

“Face mask use should be as nearly universal (i.e., nationwide) as possible and implemented without delay, even if most masks are homemade and of relatively low quality,” concluded the ASU team. “This measure could contribute greatly to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In Newsday interviews, the study's lead author and another co-author estimated that widespread use of masks starting from the early onset of the crisis in New York could have lowered the current death toll by as much as 25%

Watching the rate of transmission closely

New York's coronavirus infection level is nearly 15% after the state expanded its baseline of people tested in seeking a more precise measure of when, where and how to reopen the economy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.

Cuomo discussed the need to continue monitoring the spread and plan on isolating people found to have the virus after regional economies reopen.

The state is expanding the testing to see how wide of an impact COVID-19 has had on police, firefighters, health care workers and transit workers.

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The state will have its eye on a key number, the rate of transmission, as officials determine to what degree the state should reopen, with Cuomo simultaneously having his hand on the "activity valve."

A rate below 1.0 means that the virus is spreading to fewer people. The current statewide figure is 0.8, meaning 10 positive people are infecting about eight others. The key is to make sure the figure does not rise past 1.2, Cuomo said.

 The chart below shows new cases in Nassau and Suffolk in recent days.

You can see more charts and maps tracking cases by community, hospitalizations, testing, deaths and other statistics for Long Island. 
The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 34,865 confirmed cases in Nassau, 32,470 in Suffolk, 160,489 in New York City and 291,996 statewide.

How the dental visit is changing

Over FaceTime, an orthodontist coaches his patients to jury-rig nail clippers to snip off errant metal painfully piercing the cheek.

In a Nesconset kitchen, a mom whose daughter can't see her own orthodontist is forced to pop back a teeth-straightening wire onto the 11-year-old’s braces.

All but the treatment of dental emergencies has been banned.

Some dentists are making due with inadequate face masks, and one orthodontist is testing a “cocoon” to contain vapors aerosolized during dental work.

Even once the government allows nonemergency dentistry to resume, a visit might look different as dentists try to protect themselves, staff and patients.

New grads move to the front lines

Two new Long Island doctors thought they would be taking time off and traveling after graduating from medical school this spring.

Alison Laxer, 27, and Alexander Smith, 25, instead put on their scrubs and white coats to join the front lines of the pandemic.

It’s unlike anything they would have imagined, the two said.

In their first two weeks on the job at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, they've witnessed scenes far different from what they had grown accustomed to during rotations.

Some patients were too sick to consent to clinical trials. Glass walls protected workers from patients, and entire units were transformed to house the intubated. 

“It’s very surreal, introducing yourself as 'doctor' for the first time in this environment,” Laxer said.

More to know

The MTA is defending itself against criticism from some academic and political leaders that its trains helped spread the coronavirus, including on the Long Island Rail Road.

Elective surgeries need to return soon or there will be a "secondary health crisis," say New York health system executives, who are optimistic hospitals will receive permission to restart them in the first half of May.

One local town is offering buyouts to its unionized workforce as it faces expected revenue losses related to COVID-19.

Some motorists are taking advantage of relatively empty roads to put the pedal to the metal, with Suffolk police saying they pulled over three Porsches driving at estimated speeds of 120 mph.

Retail landlords that completed a recent survey said more than 50% of their tenants missed or were unable to pay their full rent on Long Island in April. 

Democratic officials canceled New York’s presidential primary, citing COVID-19 concerns and the suspension of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign

Gov. Cuomo is getting his highest marks for his handling of the pandemic in a recent poll that also showed half of respondents say they know someone who contracted the virus and nearly a third know someone who died from it.

News for you

Canines with beer cans. What's better than a beer delivery at your doorstep? An adorable golden retriever doing the drop-off. One local brewery is using their family dogs to bring beer to Long Islanders' homes. 

Cooking and comedy. If you're among those tuning into cooking shows while sheltering at home, there's a new one to add to your watch list. Comedy star Amy Schumer's Food Network series, "Amy Schumer Learns to Cook," now has an air date.

More restaurants to choose from. Now, six weeks after Cuomo mandated the end of all dine-in service, some eateries that initially closed their doors are reopening them. 

Feeling anxious? Add an alpaca. Long Islanders looking to soothe their coronavirus anxiety have the option to invite an alpaca to their next Zoom video conference call.

Answering your questions. Join us Tuesday at 10 a.m. for our latest free webinar with Stony Brook's Dr. Sharon Nachman and Dr. Adam J. Singer fielding questions related to the coronavirus. Reserve your spot.

Volunteer opportunities for teens. If your teens are bored, here are some ways they can help others and earn community service hours — all from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Plus: Takeout is nice, but let’s face it, nothing beats consuming an actual meal in an actual restaurant. We asked Long Islanders, where’s the first place you’re going to dine out when it's possible again? See their responses and tell us your pick.

Visit our live blog for real-time updates about the virus' impact on the Island and watch our latest daily wrap-up video.

Commentary


The way we were before COVID-19. In BC time, I didn’t grasp the significance of the seemingly banal exchange of words: "How are you? I’m doing well. How are you?" Michael Dobie writes in is his latest Newsday Opinion column.

In BC time, I never saw such open warfare between politics and science, and never expected that science would have such a struggle in a battle it should easily be winning.

I never appreciated the freedom we have to basically go anywhere we want, whenever we want, with whomever we want, to do whatever we want, for however long we want, with however many people we want.

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