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The college COVID-19 problem

NY's COVID-19 response shifts focus to colleges, Cuomo says

Cuomo named seven schools that have seen outbreaks, including Hofstra University in Hempstead along with SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Fredonia, Cornell University, University at Buffalo, and Colgate.

The state has already ordered all Oneonta students to go home because of an outbreak there. Going forward, all colleges will be required to report to the state when they have more than 100 cases.

“In New York we have a problem,” Cuomo said at a news briefing, as he listed the specific colleges. “That’s all across the state, that’s the entire state. That goes from Long Island all through upstate.”

Hofstra took exception with Cuomo's comments, with spokeswoman Karla Schuster calling his statements "misleading" and saying that a relatively small number of people had tested positive for COVID-19 there. The university has seen 34 positive cases since Aug. 28, she said, a fraction of the 9,200 people on the university’s campus.

Meanwhile, New York also revised its travel quarantine list, adding Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia under a "travel advisory" order mandating that people coming from those places self-quarantine upon arrival in this state.

The number of new positives reported today: 65 in Nassau, 52 in Suffolk, 222 in New York City and 557 statewide.

The chart above shows the number of new cases in the state and in New York City. Search a map of cases and view more charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

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With backpacks and masks, LI students return

Yellow school buses and students with backpacks — and masks — traversed Long Island neighborhoods to school on Tuesday, the first day back for most kids since schools shut down six months ago.

A total of 61 districts opened their doors Tuesday after about a dozen reopened last week. The remaining districts on Long Island were set to open throughout the week into next Monday. Not all students will be in the classrooms, however, as thousands of families have opted to keep their kids at home for remote learning.

Some districts converted gymnasiums into classrooms to allow for social distancing, kids will each lunch at their desks, staff and students will wear masks, and some will get their temperatures scanned before entering school buildings.

“I’m a little nervous, but I think they took the best precautions, and I hope for the best,” said parent Lisa Bass of Huntington, who walked with her 11-year-old son to Stimson Middle School.

And, get a close look at the first day of school for one Garden City elementary school, where more than 400 second-, third- and fourth-graders were welcomed Tuesday morning.

Oneonta freshman with COVID-19: 'I wouldn't wish this on anybody'

A SUNY Oneonta freshman from Centerport who tested positive said school officials should share more of the blame for an outbreak than her peers who partied.

Amanda Muro, 18, is living in an isolation dorm with mild symptoms. She said the school should have tested students before the semester began and that all colleges should have expected that students who have “been stuck in their houses for months” would “want to go out and meet people.”

“So yes, it’s on the kids for going out to a party in the pandemic, but it’s also that we didn’t get tested,” said Muro, who said she avoided large parties. “We wouldn’t have had this big of an outbreak.”  

Muro is one of about 600 Oneonta students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the semester began Aug. 24. The outbreak prompted officials at the 6,000-student school to switch last week to remote learning for the rest of the semester and send on-campus students home, decisions new SUNY chairman Jim Malatras has blamed on “reports of several large parties.”

9/11 first responders facing extra health challenges ahead of anniversary

As the 19th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks approaches, a growing list of 9/11 first responders have faced a dual set of painful challenges.

The firefighters, police officers, EMS and construction workers who toiled for weeks at Ground Zero, inhaling toxic fumes and dust, contracted serious respiratory illnesses or cancers. Now, many of those same first responders burdened with weakened immune systems and comorbid conditions contracted COVID-19 and were unable to fend it off.

Ralph Gismondi, a retired FDNY captain who spent weeks on the smoldering wreckage of Ground Zero, died April 5 after a battle with the coronavirus. His wife is sure he would be alive today if not for 9/11.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it had an impact," Ann Gismondi said. "He was on a pile with asbestos and all of that toxic materials that were still floating around down there. It had to have done damage."

Spanish-language outreach to slow the spread

At a recent presentation about COVID-19 prevention in Hauppauge, Gloria Ferreira listened as a Suffolk county official shared health and safety tips in Spanish.

The best part of the presentation: “understanding every single word," Ferreira said.

"Being that Spanish is my first language, it was much easier for me to understand the information without having to decipher some of the English words I don't quite grasp the meaning of," Ferreira said in Spanish.

The presentation at Parker Hannifin — an employer of about 200 Long Islanders — is part of a three-week-old initiative led by the HIA-LI trade group and Suffolk's Department of Labor aimed at bringing information "about how to protect yourself from the virus" to Spanish-speaking employees at Long Island firms. Find out more.

More to know

On Labor Day, as a strange, hot summer drew to a close, Long Islanders by the thousands donned their masks and visited parks, beaches and pools.

Theme park operators who spent months figuring out how to disinfect roller coaster seats, installing hand sanitizing stations and checking the temperatures of guests are still finding many people are reluctant to return.

Short sales will likely be on the rise as a result of the COVID-19-related unemployment rate and as loan forbearances come due, a local real estate investor, broker and attorney predicts.

News for you

Summer's just about over. But the fun doesn't have to stop yet. We've got 50 ideas for how you can have an endless summer on Long Island (with social distancing enforced).

Your guide for a post-Labor Day trip. You can still get a taste of summer at these Long Island destinations — and will likely encounter less traffic and opportunities for social distancing. See the recommendations.

Out-of-work bartender launches business. When bars and restaurants got locked down, Christine Eifert found herself out of work. She started mixing drinks at home, then started making her own simple syrup to use in cocktails. Now it's a new business with 18 flavors.

School is open. Where do we go from here? Join us for Newsday's next free virtual event on Wednesday that will bring together a panel of experts to discuss triumphs and pitfalls of the first few days, and the path forward. Reserve your spot.

Plus: What do you need to know about high school sports? Newsday's virtual event on Thursday will feature experts to break down the state of local athletics, the upcoming season, risk levels of each sport and more. Register here

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

Commentary

Requiem for a lost summer on Long Island. Heath Madom, in an essay published by Newsday Opinion, writes: I’ll begin with the food. I’m picturing a perfect Tuesday evening and I’m waiting in line outside McNulty’s Ice Cream Parlor in Miller Place — or maybe the Ice Cream Cottage in Mastic — ready to place an order, my kids bursting with excitement.

Or maybe I’m working my way through the massive bowl of mussels that tops off the Bayman’s Best platter at Varney’s Restaurant, or helping myself to seconds at Curry Club’s Sunday buffet, two of my all-time favorites. Or best of all: I’m sitting alone at a booth in Colosseo pizza, a cash-only spot I’ve been eating at since I was a kid, two fresh-out-of-the-oven slices on the table before me, waiting to be demolished.

It’s summertime. Which for me means visiting my parents on the eastern half of Long Island, where I was born and raised. I now live and teach high school in Oakland, California, but each summer, come July, I pack up my family, fly cross country, and, for about three and half weeks, relive some of my favorite summer pastimes in a strange combination of homegrown native meets starry-eyed tourist.

For obvious reasons, I canceled our trip this year. I haven’t left Oakland since March, and will likely not visit Long Island again until next summer. This realization has prompted me to reflect on my relationship with Long Island and why I still carry such affection for it.

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