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Why schools are staying closed: Understanding the risks

Classrooms could be become virus incubators

Young people returning to school face little risk of dying from coronavirus infection, but they may pose a serious potential health risk by further spreading illness among teachers, staff and especially adults living with them, experts warn.

With Cuomo announcing Friday that all schools and colleges in New York will remain closed for the remainder of the current academic year, the questions shift to whether students will return to their classrooms in the fall.

Many experts said sending children back is an essential part of the state’s economic recovery, especially for working parents. Yet doctors and other health researchers said the move, especially if done while hospitalizations rates are still high, could be a recipe for future trouble.

Classrooms could become incubators for the disease, they said. Many worry about a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall — a “second wave” — if not enough precautions are followed.

“Getting kids to wear masks is going to be next to impossible,” said Dr. Charlene Wong, a pediatric expert at Duke University.

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 36,161 confirmed cases in Nassau, 34,037 in Suffolk, 169,690 in New York City and 308,314 statewide.

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The chart above shows the daily totals of new cases on Long Island in recent days. 

See more charts and maps tracking testing, deaths, cases by community and other stats for Nassau and Suffolk.

Giving birth during a pandemic

First-time mother Diana Levine shed joyous tears when her doctor delivered a seemingly healthy 6-pound, 3-ounce baby named Noah on April 8.

The next morning, she learned she had contracted COVID-19 — prompting her to weep again.

The 34-year-old Massapequa resident had not shown any symptoms.

“I was devastated,” she said. “All these thoughts went through my head."

Levine is one of four Long Island mothers who spoke to Newsday after giving birth during the outbreak. More than two weeks after her son was born, she still hadn’t received medical clearance to hold him without wearing a mask and gloves. 

“I’ve never kissed him since he was born.”

Downtowns deflated

Closures associated with COVID-19 are threatening the health of Long Island’s many downtowns and the livelihoods of those who own businesses and employ workers there.

Though shopkeepers and restaurateurs express optimism that their businesses will survive, the virus is challenging the ability of once-vibrant areas to spring back to life after the pandemic retreats and will make it harder for those languishing or in the midst of revitalization efforts to move forward.

“Some of them are not going to be able to sustain it,” said Islip Town Councilman James P. O’Connor.

We checked in with shop owners in Great Neck Plaza, Sayville, and Montauk, plus Port Jefferson, Rockville Centre and Patchogue, to see how the shutdown is impacting their bottom lines.

Fighting viruses with light

Studies by a team of Columbia University researchers show that a narrow-wavelength band of ultraviolet light kills airborne viruses, like COVID-19, without damaging human skin or eyes.

Narrow-wavelength light holds promise for curtailing the rapid spread of viruses in the future, researchers said. The new technology would allow people to be in proximity to one another without fear of widespread infection, said David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia’s Irving Medical Center.

“I think it’s the only technique we have for preventing transmission person to person in an occupied setting.” 

More to know

LIRR commuters who have been staying home continue to face problems trying to avoid paying for trips they are not making.

Diabetics stricken with COVID-19, even some people with no known diabetes, are coming into the hospitals with dangerously high blood sugar levels, doctors say.

A Nassau man is facing charges for assaulting a bus driver who asked him to wear a protective mask or leave the bus, police said.

Nursing home workers who test positive for the virus have to stay away from their jobs for 14 days — a longer period than under federal guidelines — under a new state policy.

Games with no fans could be one way to bring professional sports back in some capacity, and this umpire has some experience calling a Major League Baseball game under this "weird" circumstance.

News for you

College Decision Day. It's the day when many high school seniors announce which college they've selected. Show us how your family is celebrating using the hashtag #DecisionDayLI and see photos from other Long Islanders.

What to know about antibody tests. You've been hearing a lot about antibody testing these days. We've got answers to more than a dozen questions you probably have about them. 

Meet you in the club. Posh Ultra Lounge is reopening for one night only ... online. The former Garden City nightclub will livestream a reunion event this Saturday night that will raise funds for a nonprofit that provides meals for health care workers.

Real superheroes. Sure, Captain America and Spider-Man are cool, but if you want to get your kids some real superhero action figures, Mattel is launching a line of toys that honor essential workers during the pandemic.

"Billions" is back. Just when you thought you were running out of new television shows to watch, Showtime's hit series "Billions" returns this Sunday. See what our critic thought of the new season.

Free legal advice. If you have questions about your rights at work or other pandemic-related legal concerns, Nassau County Bar Association members are volunteering their time to provide answers.

Plus: Have you received your stimulus check yet? See how these Long Islanders are spending their piece of the federal coronavirus aid package. 

Get real-time updates about the virus' impact on the Island by visiting our live blog, and watch our latest daily wrap-up video.

Commentary

It's a bug's life and now ours, too. For the last 10 days or so, two small jars have been sitting on our dining room table, Randi Marshall writes in her latest Newsday Opinion column. Inside each one, five caterpillars have been growing. They’ve been fascinating to watch.

Over the last few days, each caterpillar began hanging upside down from the top of the jar, and turning into a chrysalis. A hard outer shell formed to protect each of them. By Tuesday, we gently moved those hanging chrysalises into a larger habitat, preparing them for what comes next.

But still they stay inside their shells, until they’re fully ready to emerge.

It is a moment not unlike the one we humans are experiencing, and it illustrates just how important it is to wait, to stay protected until we’re all fully ready — and until the world around us is, too.

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