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New yellow zones on Long Island

'These are dangerous times that we're in'

Because of sustained increases in positive cases and infection rates, Cuomo said four Long Island communities are now designated yellow zones on Monday:

  • In Suffolk County: Hampton Bays (5.13% positivity rate) and Riverhead (4.60% rate).
  • In Nassau County: Great Neck (4.77% positivity rate) and Massapequa Park (3.9% rate).

Cuomo listed other communities on Long Island that are in danger of being named hot spots, including Freeport, Uniondale, Bethpage, Lawrence and East Hampton. He noted that levels of the virus vary widely on the Island.

The yellow designation is part of the state's "micro-cluster" strategy to slow the spread of the virus. It comes with new requirements for the areas, including limiting indoor and outdoor mass gatherings to a maximum of 25 and keeping indoor and outdoor dining to four people per table. However, under current statewide rules, gatherings in private residences remain capped at 10 people.

And: The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state has more than doubled in the last three weeks — from 1,227 to 2,724, he said. The state will have about 6,000 people hospitalized in the next three weeks if the trend continues, he added.

"These are dangerous times that we're in," Cuomo told reporters at a news briefing in Manhattan.

The number of new positives reported today: 421 in Nassau, 526 in Suffolk, 1,782 in New York City and 5,906 statewide.

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The chart below shows the number of new cases identified each day in Nassau and Suffolk throughout this month.

Search a map of cases, and view more charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

'The need is up drastically' for those seeking Thanksgiving meals

There's a push this Thanksgiving among food banks and food pantries to get enough goods to Long Islanders for the kind of meal they're used to — even during the pandemic.

Food bank officials say they plan to provide tens of thousands of turkeys for meals during a year when record numbers of Long Islanders turned to food distribution sites because of the economic effects of the pandemic. The Island's large food banks have already distributed thousands of turkeys and canned goods and are planning to distribute more.

"This season has definitely been our most challenging season, I think, in the history of our organization," said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and chief executive of Island Harvest Food Bank. "The need is up drastically."

Meanwhile, in another mission to give: Two Long Islanders will, in their separate ways, bring together teams to help feed those in need. Pastor Roy Kirton will package and deliver meals with the owner of the South Bay Diner in Lindenhurst, and Chris Strachan vows to feed and stay in touch with 50 people his nonprofit will help in Elmont.

How Long Island kids have been learning this year

The majority of Long Island public schools started the school year teaching students both in person and online under a hybrid model, while roughly 76,000 students — mostly from districts with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students and students of color — began on a remote-only path, according to a Newsday analysis.

Though the hybrid model addresses parents' concerns about the pandemic, some said in interviews that virtual learning continues to be challenging. Children are dealing with fatigue from hours in front of a computer screen.

"They are trying to make a traditional school fit into the world we are living in," said parent Jessica Leavey, who has a daughter at Connetquot High School. "They are not going to be able to learn in the same way they learned in 2019."

About 61.4%, or 375 of 611 Long Island public schools, were using a hybrid model this fall, according to data Newsday obtained from the state Education Department via a Freedom of Information Law request. About 34.4%, or 210 schools, were in person, and 4.3%, or 26 schools, were remote, the data shows. The figures come from a survey conducted by the state Education Department in September, though about 10 of the Island's 124 districts did not provide data.

In-person learning is still the norm at LI private schools

Many private high schools and middle schools here have been doing in-person instruction for all students five days a week, in contrast to most public schools.

Some private schools are seeing record demand for spots from parents who want their kids in school every day. And they're backing Cuomo’s call to rely on infection rates in each school instead of regional rates in deciding whether to close them.

When many schools opened in September, they were unsure what to expect — but they've been surprised they've been able to pull it off with few shutdowns.

"Every day I was like, ‘Lord, thank you for another day,'" said Joshua Crane, head of The Stony Brook School, which has 420 students, including 100 boarders. "What we suspected is absolutely true: Kids want to be on campus. They put up with our rules."

More to know

AstraZeneca said late-stage trials showed its vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that's easier to distribute than some of its rivals because it doesn't have to be stored at ultracold temperatures.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he's working toward reopening city schools, which he said would involve "constant" testing.

The turkey demand is still high on Long Island ahead of Thanksgiving, though farmers say smaller birds have been selling first as officials urged people to stay home and not host large celebrations.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, and she offered her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Only 25 people in the nation of 5 million have died from COVID-19.

The first COVID-19 immunizations could come on Dec. 11 or 12, about 24 to 48 hours after the FDA is expected to approve emergency use for Pfizer's vaccine, Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientific adviser said Sunday.

Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of President Donald Trump, had been quarantining Friday after learning he tested positive for the virus, a spokesperson said.

News for you

Another drive-through holiday light show. This time, through a car wash. After a successful Halloween run with its Tunnel of Terror in October, Johnnie’s Car Wash on Oak in Copiague decided to move on to Christmas. Its "12 Nights of Christmas Lights" runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 20. Get the details.

Holiday travel down as Thanksgiving goes remote. Long Islanders can expect fewer traffic jams than usual this Thanksgiving week, with transportation officials predicting the pandemic will keep many at home. Here’s what you can expect. But remember: The CDC urges Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving this year.

Shop local, maybe win $100? If you spend your money at local spots like restaurants, barber shops and car washes struggling to recover from the pandemic, there's a contest involved. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced the second annual "Shop Safe, Shop Local Scavenger Hunt" from Nov. 28 through Dec. 4. The first person to complete four of eight tasks in the hunt each day wins a $100 gift card.

This LI couple found their story on "World News Tonight." After Dave Kachadourian underwent treatment for COVID-19, his wife, Janine, was finally allowed to see him after two months apart — and their reunion was recorded and shared on social media. That video showing the reunion of the Bethpage couple was featured on the nation's most watched TV newscast on ABC last week.

Plus: Remember those once-daily televised briefings from Cuomo about the pandemic? He's now set to receive an International Emmy Award for them.

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Commentary

Grateful hearts amid the pandemic. Thanksgiving is a time for gathering, sharing and celebrating. In 2020, amid a plague that has killed our loved ones, kept us from family, robbed us of dreams, undermined our economic well-being, and brought new depths of loneliness and uncertainty, a Newsday editorial asks, what possibly could give us reason to feel gratitude?

Certainly, those who had been given the grace to selflessly take care of our community in those very dark early days deserve our thanks and prayers. That includes all those who worked in jobs society already deemed essential and those whose jobs are newly appreciated as equally important. And many in our Long Island community are once more on the front line as the virus rages again.

And there are new heroes, the scientists and researchers and production teams working against time to find remedies and vaccines and to determine how to distribute them to tame the novel coronavirus. And let’s not forget those who are making sure that on a holiday that centers around the food on the table, all tables will be as full as they can be.

One of the genuinely positive outcomes of this collective trauma is that society has learned to place a new value on public health and likely will retain the insight that the health of each one of us is dependent on the well-being of others. Keep reading.

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