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NY schools can reopen — now what?

Cuomo authorizes school districts statewide to reopen

New York’s decision on reopening represents a turnaround from New York’s status as an epicenter of the pandemic.

"They're all authorized to open," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said to reporters, adding that the decision is based on the viral infection rate and that can change if there's a spike. "If there's a matter of concern in the infection rate, then we can revisit it. But for planning purposes, they can reopen."

Cuomo said it's up to the local districts to decide on a return to instruction using in-person, hybrid, remote or another educational model. Districts must meet virtually with parents three times over the next two weeks and at least once with teachers, while New York City districts need to meet with parents five times, he said.

As for school busing and how students could get to and from school safely, some questions remain.

Meanwhile, the statewide level of positive tests from Thursday was 1%. Still, Cuomo called on local authorities and police to do more to enforce coronavirus-mitigation regulations such as social distancing and crowd limits. 

The number of new positives reported today: 46 in Nassau, 51 in Suffolk, 344 in New York City and 714 statewide.

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

Experts collaborate to make progress on a vaccine

One drug company executive said at a virtual health forum Thursday that potential COVID-19 vaccines may be ready for regulatory review by the end of the year.

The pace of progress is the result of collaboration among companies, governments and universities working to speed its development, speakers said at Northwell Health's Constellation Forum. The effort should be a model for how health care should function post-pandemic, they said.

“We are all going through a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience which inevitably will change us all, and our organizations,” said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell.

Joaquin Duato, vice chairman of the executive committee of Johnson & Johnson — which has a potential vaccine that recently entered clinical trials — said despite media reports of competition to create a vaccine, “This is a situation where companies are collaborating, and our competitor is the virus.”

Some LI firms are rethinking the 5-day office workweek

Businesses across Long Island say forced remote working will likely have a permanent impact on day-to-day operations. Many expect to rely more heavily on telecommuting, and some even anticipate the five-day, in-office week could become a thing of the past.

In a Newsday survey of over two dozen Long Island businesses representing tens of thousands of employees, the overwhelming majority said they preferred a “hybrid” work model. This model allows for flexibility — an environment where employees have the option to work remotely some days and work in-office others.

Of the 28 businesses polled, only four anticipated remaining almost completely office-based.

Read more about what some businesses are thinking.

Gym owners present Cuomo with a plan to reopen

A group representing hundreds of gym owners presented Cuomo with a plan to reopen and petitioned for a meeting to discuss potential safety protocols, asking for a chance to save their businesses from financial ruin.

The plan, outlined in a news conference Thursday, includes monthly testing that would assess the cleanliness of surfaces, a grading system that would be monitored by a third party, special filters, electrostatic disinfecting and reduced gym capacity.

“Do we not matter?” asked Charles Cassara, a Long Island gym owner and head of the New York Fitness Coalition, which represents around 700 gyms. 

Asked to comment on the group's request, a representative from the governor's office pointed to remarks Cuomo made soon after the news conference, where he said he did not believe it was safe to open gyms.

More to know

Insurance companies can't allow dentists in their network to charge members PPE fees, and must get previously paid surcharges reimbursed, state regulators said.

The organizers of The Chainsmokers concert on July 25 were issued a "notice of violation" after as many as 3,000 people attended the event at Nova's Ark Project in Water Mill, the Town of Southampton confirmed.

Nonprofit leaders on Long Island say the recent loss of enhanced unemployment benefits is having an impact locally, even as the number of new jobless claims reached the lowest level since March.

The developers of the Nassau Hub and UBS Arena at Belmont Park projects say the pandemic renewed an interest in the suburbs and Long Island.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday after testing positive earlier in the day before he was to meet with President Donald Trump, according to a statement from his office.

Losses more than doubled at Chembio Diagnostics Inc. in Hauppauge after its antibody test was pulled from the market by U.S. regulators in mid-June for producing inaccurate results in some cases.

News for you

Deciding what's best for your child. Newsday will moderate a schools discussion and Q&A on Tuesday about what could work for your student and family, the plans in place for the academic year and more. Save your spot.

And what about safety in the classroom? Join us on Thursday for a Newsday virtual event where education and health experts will explore the options, dangers and safeguards for teachers considering returning to the classroom. Register here.

Black Film Festival hosted outdoors. The Parrish Art Museum and the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center will host the Black Film Festival on Aug. 14 and 21. Find the lineup and the pandemic guidelines here.

Back to summer trends at this boutique. It may not feel like an ordinary summer on Long Island, but inside Reign boutique in Long Beach or Merrick, you might not notice. Summer party dresses are still as popular as ever, even without the big bashes.

Plus: Re-watch our Friday webinar here, which featured a panel of education and technology professionals discussing concerns about the upcoming school year on Long Island.

Sign up for text messages to get the most important coronavirus news and information.

Commentary

Schools need rapid COVID-19 testing. Rebecca Slotkin, an internal medicine hospitalist physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, writes for The Hartford Courant: No one likes to wait, but the current public COVID-19 test turnaround times make reopening our school systems unimaginable.

Like many Americans, my friend and I are both waiting for a CVS "MinuteClinic" COVID test result. I am a doctor; she is a teacher. I live in Connecticut; she lives in Washington, D.C. The projected wait time for both of us is six to 10 days, maybe more. Someone in Arizona waited for more than 22 days.

Staffing a school is much different than staffing hospital services, but what we share in common is a vulnerable workforce with specialized skills.

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