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Long Island on track to reopen next week

Long Island on track to reopen next week

Long Island could start to finally reopen its economy next week after more than a two-month shutdown, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, as long as deaths from the virus continue to decline and Nassau and Suffolk bring their contact tracer operations up to speed.

The state will allow construction companies to immediately begin setting up work sites and equipment to prepare for relaunching their activities next week under the first phase of reopening, he said. 

"We are hopeful that the number of deaths continues to decline and then they would be reopening..." as long as they ramp up efforts "to get their tracing numbers up,” Cuomo said.

He said local governments "do not have any legal authority" to open or reopen their economies, without meeting the metrics set by the state.

He also reminded New Yorkers that wearing a mask in public settings is "mandatory" if you are within six feet of another person.

"Look at the Constitution," he added. "Tell me where it says that you have the right to infect another person. You don’t.”

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The following chart shows the daily totals of new cases in Nassau and Suffolk in recent days.

Search a map of Long Island cases and view more charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 39,608 confirmed cases in Nassau, 38,672 in Suffolk, 196,484 in New York City and 358,154 statewide.

'If we aren't careful' this weekend outbreak could recur

Better think twice before running back to the supermarket to pick up that extra package of hot dogs for your Memorial Day barbecue.

Health experts, worried about the spread of COVID-19, are warning Long Islanders to plan carefully before embarking on holiday weekend activities such as shopping, taking a dip in a neighbor’s pool and heading to the beach.

They fear people who have been cooped up for months during the pandemic might be a little too eager to party this weekend and forget vital social distancing rules.

“It’s critically important for people to realize that Memorial Day could be a wonderful commemorative day or it could unfortunately be the day that we recur and go back if we aren’t careful,” said Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital.

Whether you're heading to the beach or a backyard, check out these tips for staying safe this weekend. 

At least 671 LI companies received waivers to open as 'essential'

State records show at least 671 waivers have been issued to Long Island businesses in March and April deeming them “essential” and allowing them to operate while most of the state’s economy has been shut down.

The companies granted waivers varied widely, according to records obtained under the state Freedom of Information Law. They include everything from construction firms to job-placement services to vaping shops to pet groomers.

Waivers were sought by more than 23,000 individual companies statewide. Each time a group of lawyers at the Empire State Development Corp., the state economic development agency, determined a company was essential, the decision applied to all companies in the same line of business. All of the companies also had to adhere to social distancing requirements tailored to their operation to try to avoid spread of the virus, state officials said.

Some business owners said they found the process under which the exemptions were granted to be confusing, frustrating and opaque because there were no public statements as to why a waiver was granted or denied.

“Everybody is frustrated because it seems the chain stores have a leg up,” said Eric Alexander, founder of the LI Main Street Alliance, which represents downtowns undergoing revitalization. 

School sports could look very different upon return

When Long Island first glimpses the return of high school sports from its coronavirus-imposed stoppage, it could have a very different look. Basketball practices may not allow passing. Tennis practices may not allow players to hit together. Volleyball practices may not allow play at the net.

The National Federation of State High School Associations this week put out a 16-page document outlining protocols during the pandemic.

It advises that high school sports return in three phases. In the first, there are highly modified practices in lower- and moderate-risk sports. Only in the third phase do higher-risk sports like football, wrestling and competitive cheerleading begin competition. 

“Governor [Andrew M.] Cuomo will decide what happens for public schools and therefore sports, but these guidelines could be our bible when it’s time,” said Tom Combs, the executive director for Section XI that governs high school athletics in Suffolk.

On Long Island and across the state many routes for the return of high school sports are being considered — among them are pushing the season back a month, canceling the fall entirely and playing spring sports in the fall and fall sports in the spring — and Combs said “extraordinary times may require extraordinary measures."

More to know

Long Island hospitals have seen a massive downturn in COVID-19 patients, according to Michael J. Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, the area's largest health care provider, but in a recent interview, he warned that if social distancing doesn't remain in place, a lot of the gains made will be lost.

At least three major day camps on Long Island have made the decision not to open this summer, with owners saying that with all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, they don’t feel confident they will be able to keep children safe while running their traditional programs.

President Donald Trump said he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential" and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend.

Adventureland canceled plans to host a group drive-in graduation celebration in their parking lot, which included an announcement of each graduate’s name and an “Adventureland Diploma” for a fee of $50 per car.

Debbie Gibson is among the performers who have been added to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame’s upcoming TV special, “Supporting Health Care Heroes," set for May 31.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has given hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug President Donald Trump has trumpeted without scientific evidence as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, to 1,300 COVID-19 positive vets, including residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home, officials said.

News for you

Is it allergies or coronavirus? If you suffer from spring allergies, you may have more than a stuffy nose and red eyes to worry about this season: Some allergy symptoms overlap with symptoms of the COVID-19 infection.

Food options at the beach. You can head to the beach this weekend, but will you need to pack your own lunch? Some concessions at popular stretches of sand will be open with limited service. Get the details.

Buying a boat. In these times of social distancing, the boating lifestyle might be beckoning as it offers a chance to get out and away from the crowds, but the financial commitments and regulations can be intimidating. Here's what you should know if you're considering buying a boat on Long Island.

Can pools, bug bites spread the virus? You might be wondering if the virus can survive in chlorinated pools or if mosquito bites can transmit the virus. Get answers to these and other questions related to staying safe outdoors this summer.

Whip up S'mores nachos. The grill isn't just for steaks and burgers. Use the heat of your barbecue to make a sweet al fresco treat like this pineapple pizza or nachos made of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and fruit. Try these recipes.

Plus: Whether you're looking for socially distant activities to do with your family, a list of open beaches or a guide to local restaurants now offering takeout and delivery, you'll find it here.

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

Will distance learners have a Field Day with half days? Back during my most active parenting years, when taking care of and entertaining the Beloved Sapling was more of a full-time adventure, my wife and I came to agree that the school year and the summer break had one thing in common: We could not wait for them to begin, and we could not wait for them to end, Lane Filler writes in his latest Newsday Opinion column.

Each season has its challenges, and I imagine distance learning manages to combine those challenges rather brutally.

Would ending the school year early help? Judging by the parents and school district superintendents I’ve asked, it depends on whether your children are the kind who think algebra is an adventure or the kind who believe higher math and English literature are a cruel hoax.

But like it or hate it, the school year that turned into distance learning in March is going to end about two weeks early in most or all Long Island school districts in June, whether parents know it yet or not.

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