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How Day 1 of reopening is going

Phase One of reopening begins

The first day of Long Island’s long-awaited reopening was no different for Blum’s apparel store in Patchogue than any other day during the past two-plus months. Despite online sales and mail orders, business was still terrible.

The store — normally packed this time of year with customers sampling beachwear — was empty Wednesday except for Siegel, his co-owner and one other employee.

The first phase in Nassau and Suffolk included low-risk businesses involved in construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade, curbside and in-store pickup for retail, along with agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting.

It was anything but business as usual as masks, gloves and social distancing rules remained in effect for patrons and employees, and retailers were required to limit occupancy to 50%. Still, the reopening was welcome news for a region desperate for an economic infusion, even as business was slow to return.

See how other local businesses fared on Day 1 of the reopening and see what you can expect in Phases Two and Three.

Some of the continued restrictions, such as prohibiting in-store shopping at most stores, will make it difficult for some businesses to survive, said John Rizzo, a Stony Brook University professor and chief economist for the LIA.

“If you make it unappealing for patrons and unprofitable for businesses,” he said, the reopening “will not work.

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If second wave comes, LI hospitals say they're prepared

If the reopening of Long Island leads to an increase in COVID-19 patients, Long Island hospital executives said they're prepared.

Hospitals in the region have seen a steady decline of patients since the peak, which took place around April 10. Health systems have reported a drop of 80% in patients since.

"The second time around is like having a second child in that it's a lot easier," said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell Health, the largest health system in the state. "We expanded by 2,000 beds when the pandemic hit. We could do that again tomorrow if we had to."

In March, as the pandemic hit New York, Battinelli said Northwell also had "no idea" how much personal protective equipment it should stockpile or how many employees should be moved to support an outbreak.

"There were a lot of what-ifs," he said. "It turned out we were all right with PPE, but this time we have a better idea of what we need."

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 40,034 confirmed cases in Nassau, 39,258 in Suffolk, 199,968 in New York City and 364,965 statewide.

The following chart shows the total number of hospitalized COVID-19 cases on Long Island in recent days.

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

Towns rethink services, workdays 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced local governments to alter the way they do business, and now towns are beginning to implement permanent changes in anticipation of fully reopening.

“The culture of government is going to change in major ways,” said Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. “The way that we do business has already dramatically changed very quickly."

Town supervisors said services that were moved online will remain available there and some changes, such as drive-thru payment systems for taxes and beach passes, will likely be permanent.

Leaders in all 13 Long Island towns said they plan to or have already installed plexiglass dividers in areas where workers interact with the public. Some are considering dividers between employees as well, or restructuring office spaces. These kinds of preventive actions will likely lower rates of all illnesses, officials said, lessening sick days.

And some towns are planning to buy temperature readers to use at public entrances and to limit the number of visitors inside offices. See what other tactics they are considering.

For Class of 2020, a senior year like no other

Longwood High School senior Gabby Velazquez selected her prom dress in February, as she looked forward to one of the most anticipated high school traditions.

But that royal blue gown hangs in the closet and likely won't be worn for a formal occasion anytime soon. Velazquez, and her peers across the country in the Class of 2020, have had to cope with canceled proms and award banquets, virtual learning and lost sports seasons.

"It is the golden year in high school," said Velazquez, 18, of Coram. "It is supposed to be the best time of your life."

Newsday spoke with seniors from various local high schools. Here's what they had to say about what they've given up during the pandemic.

(Also, meet Long Island's 2020 valedictorians and salutatorians.)

More to know

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President Donald Trump and discussed his ideas "to supercharge the reopening" by clearing hurdles and providing support for infrastructure projects in New York and across the country. (A new poll shows support for Cuomo remains high, but has dropped a bit as New Yorkers are divided over his handling of the virus in nursing homes.)

Southampton beaches are closing to out-of-town visitors after what town officials called a “hellish” holiday weekend where 500 people gathered on one narrow East End beach.

Suffolk is seeking up to $5 million in loans for small businesses, nonprofits and landlords through a new state program aimed at helping those entities reopen after the shutdown.

A local pharmacist — dubbed the “Mask Man” by federal prosecutors — illegally profited by selling desperately needed N95 masks at inflated prices, lied to investigators, stole the identities of his pharmacy’s patients and stockpiled 4,000 pills and patches of controlled substances in his home safe, officials said.

Thirty-thousand free baby diapers will be distributed to families struggling to purchase the necessity amid the economic distress brought by the pandemic thanks to a partnership between a Long Island-based diaper bank and one of the region’s largest food banks.

Walt Disney World will reopen in July after months of inactivity because of the pandemic, according to plans a city task force approved.

Major League Baseball is proposing more pay cuts based on a sliding scale that would have the highest-paid players losing the greatest percentage of their salaries, while the lowest-paid ones would get almost all of their guaranteed money as it tries to negotiate a plan to salvage the season.

News for you

'Adult ice pops.' Good Humor has nothing on this Creamsicle, which is made with Reyka Icelandic vodka, housemade coconut-vanilla syrup and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It's one of four flavors of alcohol-infused popsicles that one local eatery is serving up now.

Fitness classes in your yard. If you want to take your CrossFit, yoga or other workout routine to the backyard or beach, these five Long Island-based fitness experts have put together outdoor routines that will get you moving, using items you most likely have at home.

Birds of Prey Drive-Thru Day. It’s not exactly a safari, but it may be as close as we get on Long Island: Sweetbriar Nature Center is hosting a drive-through event so families can see birds of prey from the safety of their cars.

Ready for reopening? Join us tomorrow at 10 a.m. for a free webinar about what local businesses should expect in the coming weeks and after Long Island's economy reopens. The live session will feature a discussion and interactive Q&A with county officials and the head of Discover Long Island. Reserve your spot.

Plus: Struggling to feed your picky eaters during the pandemic? Try this burrito-meets-casserole recipe, which is billed as "outrageously appealing and incredibly easy" to make.

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


Clashing over the reopening of NY. I’m getting frustrated because how dare they say my job is nonessential, reader Bernie Bienwalk, of Centerport, writes in a letter published by Newsday Opinion.

My job put a roof over my family’s heads, fed them, helped my kids with college and two weddings. I paid taxes to provide a salary for our political leaders to sit home and play partisan politics, collecting their full salary while we go without.

And how dare they say practicing my faith is nonessential? I’m tired of my fellow faithful, no matter what their faith is, being harassed by politicians.

We have known for more than a month the targeted group is mostly seniors with and without preconditions, so let’s take care of them and let us go back to work. It’s time to demand we get our civil liberties back.

Read more letters from Long Islanders about the shutdown.

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