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NYC schools to close as COVID-19 cases rise

Cuomo warns of 'tremendous spike' ahead; NYC schools to close tomorrow

The statewide positivity rate was 3.43%, while 2,202 patients were hospitalized with the virus and 35 people died from COVID-19, Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany. Long Island's positivity rate for new infections was 3.2% on Tuesday.

Cuomo said he expects New York will see a "tremendous spike after Thanksgiving" because of large indoor gatherings.

This upward trend of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus across the region sparked de Blasio’s decision to close public schools in the five boroughs starting Thursday and continuing indefinitely. The city reached its seven-day average infection rate of 3%, triggering an automatic closure and switch to all-remote learning.

It's the second time during the pandemic that a rapid spread in infections led the mayor to close schools.

"New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out of an abundance of caution. We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19," de Blasio said on Twitter.

Pfizer: COVID-19 vaccine 95% effective, seeking clearance soon

Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its vaccine is 95% effective, is safe and protects older people most at risk of dying. It's the last piece of data needed for the company to seek emergency use of its limited supplies.

The announcement from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech came just a week after revealing promising preliminary results.

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The companies have accumulated 170 infections in the study — and said only eight of them occurred in volunteers who got the actual vaccine rather than a dummy shot. One of those eight developed a severe case, the companies said.

"This is an extraordinarily strong protection," Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's CEO and co-founder, told The Associated Press.

Flu cases tracking lower despite fear of virus 'twindemic' threat

Flu season is just getting started, but early tracking shows its impact has been mild so far — leaving medical experts hoping it won't complicate the coronavirus pandemic.

There are 162 confirmed cases of influenza in the state as of Nov. 7, according to the New York State Health Department Flu Tracker. At this same time last year, there were 276. Flu cases in October were, on average, lower than in recent years, with 444 cases compared to 870 for the same period in 2019.

Dr. Daniel Griffin, chief of infectious disease at the Lake Success-based ProHEALTH, a large physician group on Long Island and New York City, said they have seen few influenza cases this season.

"In a time of nothing but bad news, the good news is that, so far, we are not seeing the twindemic people were worried about," he said.

Older NYers who aren't white hit harder by pandemic, research shows

The pandemic has hit nonwhite New Yorkers of all ages disproportionately, leading to greater rates of infection and death.

Now, AARP research finds older New Yorkers who aren’t white are falling behind on rent and are having trouble affording food "at far greater rates than their white counterparts."

The research showing these greater struggles was presented Tuesday at the group’s "AARP NY Disrupt Disparities 3.0 Virtual Summit," held on Zoom.

"This report shows what we’ve heard for months: that older New Yorkers of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic both in terms of their health and their financial security," AARP New York State director Beth Finkel said in a news release. "COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the disparities we’ve been documenting for years. We and our collaborators will keep fighting to make things right for all New Yorkers."

Long Island's Toys for Tots goes on this year

The pandemic isn't slowing down Long Island's largest holiday toy drive to help children in need.

Members of the United States Marines Corp joined with Nassau lawmakers and business leaders in Levittown on Tuesday to kick off the annual Toys for Tots campaign. Individuals, businesses and other organizations will collect toys across the Island, and the Marines will distribute them to local underprivileged children.

While the virus is raging, it "doesn't mean we can't give back to the kids," said Drew Reynolds, regional general manager for Miller's Ale House, which has toy collection boxes at all of its area locations.

More to know

A surge of new cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving some shelves bare and retailers putting limits on purchases.

The start of higher-risk high school winter sports practices has been pushed to Jan. 4 from Nov. 30 due to rising infection rates concerns, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday.

The NBA released its plan for the 2020-21 season late Tuesday night, a schedule that will send all teams on road trips to every city.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator and third in the line of presidential succession, said Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus.

State and local officials around the U.S. are adjusting their blueprints for fighting the virus, with Republican governors adopting mask mandates and schools scrapping plans to reopen classrooms.

The FDA on Tuesday allowed emergency use of the first rapid virus test that can be performed and developed entirely at home.

News for you

Avoiding cybercriminals while online shopping. More people are holiday shopping online because of the pandemic. But while you’re staying away from crowded stores or malls, cybercriminals are out in full force. Be mindful of the passwords you use, the Wi-Fi you're connected to and which sites you visit. Here’s how to shop safely.

Find a restaurant with an isolated igloo. Restaurants around Long Island have pitched these domed structures made from heavy clear plastic in outdoor spaces to keep patrons toasty while dining out. Check out the guide for where you can find them and what they're all about.

For your de-cluttering needs. Looking to clear up your living room? There are some items you can easily toss. We've got a list of six unnecessary things you can get rid of to make way for a living room that feels less cluttered (at least for some of the time).

The 21 great movies you can stream. Many of us will be spending more time at home this season — and in good news for movie lovers, Oscar contenders are coming to you. Here’s your at-home guide to the big movies of the winter season.

Plus: Delta is the only airline of the big three still blocking middle seats for social distancing. It will continue to do so until March 30, 2021, the airline announced Wednesday.

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Commentary

COVID fatigue is debilitating. Reader Dolly Kalhorn, of North Babylon, writes to Newsday Opinion: I think "COVID fatigue" is an appropriate term.

Like "battle fatigue," people are experiencing a lethargic debility these past months. We weren’t made to breathe through masks for extended periods, never seeing smiles (or frowns) or any expressions at all on others. The worst is being unable to hug or shake hands. It’s known that lack of physical contact damages emotional development. People are losing patience and responding with angry frustration.

The fear of COVID-19 is being overtaken by not having normal conversations or physical contact. It’s stressful living in semi-isolation, especially for those of us following the "rules." How much longer before we lose our sanity?

Read this letter and more reader letters in response to the pandemic.

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