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The dangers of reopening too fast

Medical experts say other states show reopening consequences

Most states with rapidly increasing caseloads have less-stringent rules than New York on social distancing and mask-wearing, including in indoor venues, and reopened more quickly.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced the state would "pause" its aggressive reopening after reporting more than 11,000 new cases in two days and a surge in hospitalizations. Florida reported that 30% of COVID-19 cases confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic have come within the past 10 days.

“We see a lot of outbreaks related to big gatherings in bars and churches,” said Dr. Bettina Fries, chief of the infectious diseases division at Stony Brook Medicine.

Unlike in restaurants, where people are seated at tables, in bars “structurally, it’s hard to separate people because there’s a lot of open space,” said Kristen Pogreba-Brown, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Arizona.

As a result, people often crowd together with little regard to social distancing, she said.

Cuomo: Tracers to help ensure quarantine compliance

New York State will make random checks on people to enforce a 14-day quarantine on travelers coming from states that are hot spots for the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

The advisory by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, imposing the quarantine on some out-of-state travelers, is "not a blockade" and is not a political decision but rather a cautionary policy needed to ensure coronavirus infection rates don't soar again in these states, Cuomo said on CNN.

Asked how New York would enforce such a mandate, Cuomo said tracers would be following up randomly to make sure certain visitors were meeting all requirements.

Cuomo said inspectors will be "looking randomly at names on the list" and following up to make sure visitors are quarantined. If they are not, they will be fined, he said.

"I think most people are going to honor it," Cuomo said Thursday.

The map above shows the concentration of cases in Long Island communities. Search this map and view charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

The number of new positives today, reported as of 3 p.m.: 61 in Nassau, 50 in Suffolk, 351 in New York City and 749 statewide.

New virus cases on LI remain flat or decline, data shows 

Despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases around the nation, the number of new cases remained stable in Suffolk and declined in Nassau, according to a Newsday analysis of recent health data.

The average number of new cases per day in Nassau dropped to 37 for the week ending June 22, down from 44 the prior week. In Suffolk, the number of cases remained the same at 45 cases per day. At the virus' peak, the numbers were about 24 times larger, with about 1,100 new cases identified per day.

Health experts praised New Yorkers for curbing the once-rampant spread of COVID-19 but warned that this might be a lull in a long storm.

“I’m not surprised because people here have been relatively compliant” with social distancing measures like mask-wearing and other precautions, said Anthony Santella, a Hofstra University assistant professor of public health, about the latest Long Island numbers.

"We’re still in the early days of COVID-19,” he said.

Mall owners, officials miffed at Phase 4 delay

Business owners and local elected officials expressed disappointment and anger at news that Long Island's shopping malls, movie theaters and gyms will not be allowed to reopen as expected in Phase 4 of the region's reopening.

The Island, which entered Phase 3 on Wednesday, is expected to enter the final phase of the reopening plan on July 8.  

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who had advocated that malls be allowed to reopen under Phase 2 with other retail businesses, said at a press briefing Wednesday:   “Our mall operators have very detailed protocols about how they come back. And I’ve seen them, and I am very reassured that we can do it safely.

The state’s plan to slow the return of malls, theaters and gyms is taking into account new information that comes out daily about the virus, Cuomo said at a news conference, with the state looking to retain the health gains it has made in the declining number of COVID-19 cases.

Signing legal waivers before a cut and color

Customers desperate for color and a haircut have a new check-in routine at some of the salons reopening in the shadow of the pandemic.

Before heading to their stylists' chair, they must submit to a temperature check, answer a questionnaire on symptoms or exposure and sign a liability waiver.

The waiver, which owners have created on their own from online templates, says the customer will assume the risks of infection and give up any claims against the business should infection occur. Few, if any, customers resist, salon owners say.

“They’re dying to get in here. They’ll do what they have to do to get in here,” said Lisa Ferry, a salon coordinator at NuBest in Manhasset. Salons are operating with half their staff at any one time, seats separated by 6 feet of distancing or partitions, and mandatory masks for employees and clients.

More to know

Nurses and other staffers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital rallied outside both facilities on Wednesday, demanding hazard pay for working during the pandemic.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority faces an unprecedented “four-alarm fire” financial crisis that could require layoffs, fare increases and service cuts to address, agency leaders said.

The Mets and Yankees will not be affected by the new quarantine rule and are exempt, Cuomo clarified.

Democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual presidential nominating convention Aug.17 to 20 in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, party officials said.

Some criminal trials can be held on Long Island again as the court system enters its next phase after the pandemic forced closures and a transition to virtual operations.

The number of laid-off workers who applied for unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week, the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing but are still at a painfully high level.

News for you

Ready for public pools? Several facilities are reopening for swimming this weekend, although most have residency requirements and capacity limits. Here's what you need to know about public pools across Long Island.

Tour Long Island restaurants. Sidewalk bars, pop-up dining tents and other creative settings are injecting a dose of fun into outdoor dining, particularly in downtowns. Here are some restaurant crawls you can do across the Island.

Keeping your plants blooming. Throughout the month of July, plan to use a tip or chore everyday to keep your garden growing. From watering to fertilizing, follow along the calendar.

When do sports return? Here's a look at the sports calendar for the rest of 2020 as leagues try to restart their seasons.

A drive-in trapeze show. I-Fly's professional flying trapeze troupe will be flying through the air Friday night at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. The aerial show features acrobatic stunts and thrills.

Plus: While the weather's nice, get out and enjoy a park. Check out our guides to the region's county parks and state parks for what you should know before you go.

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

Commentary

Cruising uncharted waters during the pandemic. When the COVID-19 outbreak began and President Trump declared a national emergency in early March, businesses shut down, citizens began staying home, cities looked like ghost towns … and I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean heading to the Bahamas, writes reader Saul Schachter, of Sea Cliff.

Not the best timing on my part.

“You’re on a cruise? Are you nuts?” were the email messages I received from my closest friends and family members.

In my defense, I must point out that when I left on the Norwegian Bliss on March 8, no one, not one person, expressed concern about me going on a cruise. I was concerned, calling my travel agent, calling Norwegian, only to be assured that, yes, the cruise was still on.

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