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This app will tell you if you've been exposed to COVID-19

New app to help NY residents detect potential exposure

The COVID Alert NY app, downloadable via Apple iPhone and Android cellphones, was created in conjunction with Bloomberg Philanthropies and those technology companies.

"What this app will do is it will tell you if you were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive and if you were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive for ten minutes, so it will tell you if you were quote-unquote in contact with a COVID-positive person," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

It will "not only bring contact-tracing to a new level, but it will also give people comfort," he added.

While the overall number of new positive COVID-19 cases across the state remains below 1%, spikes in the 20 hot spots was 6.5%, Cuomo said, up from the 5.5% reported on Wednesday.

Cuomo said the 20 hot spots "require full attention and effectiveness and action" calling on local governments to enforce mask-wearing and physical-distancing orders from the state.

The number of new positives reported today: 72 in Nassau, 46 in Suffolk, 533 in New York City and 1,382 statewide.

The chart below shows the cumulative number of people who have been tested for the coronavirus in Nassau and Suffolk counties this month. Search a map of cases and view more charts showing the latest local trends in new cases, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

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Reps ask IRS to let LIRR riders recoup their commute funds

Long Island’s congressional delegation is the latest to call on the federal government to let Long Island Rail Road customers recoup funds for commutes they no longer make.

Five Congress members representing Long Island districts sent a letter to the IRS, urging it to "consider any available options … to provide targeted relief for individuals who have unused transportation benefits due to the ongoing pandemic."

Thousands of LIRR customers are enrolled in benefit programs offered by employers that allow them to pay commuting costs using up to $270 a month in pretaxed wages deducted from their paychecks. But once wages are deducted from an enrollee’s earnings and set aside for commuting, IRS regulations prohibit the pretaxed dollars from being refunded — even if someone loses a job and stops commuting.

"These individuals may be forced to forfeit a significant amount of unused commuter benefits that they were unable to access as a result of this ongoing crisis and at no fault of their own," wrote the letter’s authors.

Experts stress importance of flu shot during pandemic

How can you and your loved ones safely navigate the flu season during the pandemic? Start by using a little bit of common sense, said a panel of experts speaking on a Newsday Live webinar on Wednesday.

Getting a flu vaccine is a first step, the experts said. Also, remaining vigilant about wearing a mask, maintaining social-distancing protocols and hand-washing and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle may help, they said.

It is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. And with COVID-19 vaccines still in the development stage, a realistic timetable for a reliable vaccine is probably in the fall or winter of 2021-22, the experts agreed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that for the 2019-2020 flu season, there were between 39 million and 56 million cases and between 24,000 and 62,000 flu deaths in the United States.

Nassau volunteers recognized for helping front-line workers

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran summoned a higher power Wednesday to describe the efforts of seven men who distributed personal protective equipment and pizza to front-line workers at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.

"They call it a mission of faith because they really are doing God’s work," Curran said during a news conference to honor the men. "They commandeered as many trucks and Chevy Suburbans as they could get their hands on, and they got to work distributing PPE and pizza."

The group had volunteered for the COVID-19 Emergency Task Force, which was organized by the Diocese of Brooklyn, and distributed face masks and hand sanitizer, as well as pizza pies, to thousands of police officers, firefighters and health care workers on Long Island and New York City at the height of the pandemic, officials said.

In just a few months, she said, the volunteers stopped by police precincts, firehouses and hospitals, distributing more than 500,000 masks, about 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, 42,000 pairs of gloves and 50,000 pizzas.

More to know

Small businesses in New York that want to increase their online sales will receive discounts and technical assistance from several online shopping platforms under a state program approved Thursday.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week, but to a still-high 837,000.

The HIA-LI is taking its annual trade show and conference virtual and expanding the scope to include national and international attendees because of the pandemic.

Carle Place-based 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. plans to hire 10,000 seasonal workers, including about 1,000 for work-from-home positions not available in years past.

The Titans-Steelers game originally scheduled for Sunday has now been postponed until later this season due to additional positive COVID-19 cases in the Titans’ organization.

New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts both charged illegal dues and prohibited members from canceling during the pandemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced in suing the gyms’ parent company.

News for you

Another drive-through event — this time, with dinosaurs. Jurassic Quest is coming to Point Lookout Beach beginning this Friday. You can drive through this prehistoric tour that features more than 70 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs accompanied by an audio show. Get the details.

It's October, and that means Halloween weekends. The Center for Science Teaching and Learning is holding its family-friendly "Spooky Fest" throughout this month — but with new health and safety changes. Find out more.

Tennis proves a good sport for a pandemic. Outdoor courts at parks and schools makes it easy to play the sport while social distancing, and even indoor facilities are naturally spacious. Read about how some Long Islanders are finding more time for the hobby.

Stony Brook University expands program to help businesses. SBU has raised enough funding to offer Pandemic Shift workshops — free digital courses on surviving the pandemic — to 300 business leaders. They're slated to begin in October. Read more.

Plus: The holiday season this year might look different — but don't let that guilt you into overspending on gifts. Experts weigh in on financial tips for you to keep in mind as the holidays approach.

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Commentary

Why people have had enough of lockdowns. Lionel Laurent, of Bloomberg Opinion, writes: The history of epidemics is rife with examples of society rebelling against tough public-health edicts, such as the breach of plague quarantine in 18th-century Marseille or protests against face masks during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The grim consequence is a fresh wave of deadly infections.

COVID-19's million deaths may pale in comparison to the estimated 50 million lives lost in 1918, but the cycle risks unfolding again. France, the U.K. and Spain face a triple threat: A jump in cases, a population exhausted by lockdown-induced recession, and rising resistance to tougher measures.

Curfews and closures of restaurants and bars have seen business owners literally throw their keys to the ground in present-day Marseille. In Madrid, protesters have bristled at a targeted local lockdown they view as discriminatory. It's not just conspiracy theorists on the streets in London and Berlin who are angry.

Those protesting shouldn't be dismissed as the selfish exceptions to the rule. Beyond the vocal minority, there are signs that the silent majority is also losing faith in increasingly bureaucratic strictures. Policymakers need to restore it. Keep reading.

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