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The possibility of new restrictions

Cuomo: If hospitals overwhelmed, NY regions will shut down

The threat of potential shutdowns by region looms if the hospital capacity "becomes critical," Cuomo said Monday at a press briefing. He was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases, via videoconference.

If hospitalization rates don't stabilize over a five-day period, he said he would order restaurants on Long Island and elsewhere to reduce indoor dining to 25% of their capacity and New York City to stop indoor dining completely. He also ordered hospitals to increase capacity immediately by 25% amid surging cases.

The decision will be made on a region-by-region basis. Cuomo said it's possible hospitalization rates stabilize this week, but he said he had doubts.

"Right now it is increasing," he said of the rates, and "I expect it to continue to do [so], unless people change their behavior."

Cuomo also called on retired doctors and nurses "to return to service."

The level of daily confirmed cases on Long Island is now on par with many of the days in April, when the pandemic peaked.

Meanwhile in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday welcomed back to school thousands of students after almost three weeks of halted in-person learning.

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The number of new positives reported today: 534 in Nassau, 748 in Suffolk, 2,765 in New York City and 7,302 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of new daily cases reported each day on Long Island during the past month.

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

On COVID-19 vaccines: A Stony Brook University webinar last week brought together three experts to explain — and we’ve compiled their answers to some commonly asked questions.

Rapid testing before gathering is a risky strategy, experts say

Even as the number of cases rises, many Long Islanders are eager to gather or travel. And some are choosing to take COVID-19 tests as a preventive measure so they can see friends and family.

But experts say that’s a risky strategy.

Dr. Mark Jarrett, deputy chief medical officer and chief quality officer at Northwell Health, said too many think they're protected from the virus because of a negative test, but results may not detect people in the early stages of the illness and it provides no safeguards for the days after the test.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, chair of medicine and infectious disease at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside, says: "If people rely upon a negative test and not practice appropriate COVID prevention, it's going to lead to an increase in cases, not a decrease in cases."

The worst of times for small businesses

The pandemic has forced many Long Island small businesses to close permanently, and many others are on the verge of shutting down.

At least 128 businesses vacated Main Street storefronts by early November, upending livelihoods and reshaping landscapes, a survey of 33 downtown business districts by the group Vision Long Island revealed. Eric Alexander, Vision’s director, warned the number of closures could grow if a state moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures is allowed to expire next year.

"When that hits, it’ll expose the real economic pain," Alexander said.

For some businesses here, the decision to close was heart-wrenching and disrupted not just personal finances, but relationships built over years with employees and customers. Read and watch video of some of their stories.

Families find isolation from relatives in nursing homes 'heartbreaking'

Each day since March, 90-year-old Edith Mishkin looks out the window of her room at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack to see her special guests: daughters Elise and Barbara.

It’s a tradition the daughters started after COVID-19 forced nursing homes to stop allowing visitors, leaving some residents to live in isolation, away from family.

"We are lucky she has a ground-floor room. Otherwise, it would be much more difficult to see her in person," said Elise Rubin of Commack.

Many Long Island nursing homes can’t have visitors because of a state mandate that a facility must go 14 days without a patient or staff member testing positive for COVID-19.

Families have been struggling with isolation from loved ones — even though they acknowledge the restrictions have lowered nursing home outbreaks.

More to know

Long Island parents and instructors of students with special needs say they learned a powerful lesson after kids were pulled from schools in March: They need to be in school.

Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for the virus, President Donald Trump said Sunday.

State guidance for high-risk high school winter sports is on hold, officials said last week.

Major League Baseball and all 30 of its teams are suing insurance providers, citing billions in losses during a season played almost entirely without fans.

MSC Industrial Direct Co. is shrinking its Melville headquarters by 85% because of the success it's had with a home-based workforce, executives said.

R&B singer Jeremih has been released from a Chicago hospital after a monthlong battle with COVID-19.

News for you

Safe (and warm) dining in a greenhouse. Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails in Lindenhurst is using greenhouse technology to keep up with outdoor dining this season. A 72-by-34-foot greenhouse with 14 outdoor tables recently opened to warm diners and keep a ventilation system to pump fresh air in and out for safety.

Holiday fun without leaving your car. Long Island has plenty of light shows and events to celebrate this season, and some of them perfectly allow for social distancing. Check out these holiday shows and events.

Where you can donate toys for LI kids. It's been a tough year, and sites around Long Island are collecting toy donations to distribute to kids this season. Here are seven places that are seeking new, unwrapped toys for those in need.

Turning to crystals during a crazy year. Three new crystal stores have opened on Long Island in recent months, and some are noting a surge in interest and sales. "Each crystal has a purpose and its own healing property to assist you in what you need," says Michele Accardi, who opened The Wishing Crystal in Lindenhurst last month. Find out more.

Plus: Watch out for text messages that look like they're from government agencies about grants, tax refunds, pandemic relief or unemployment insurance — chances are they're fake.

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

Commentary

The willing suspension of disbelief. Michael Dobie writes in his latest Newsday Opinion column: The suspension of disbelief is a powerful human behavior.

The concept dates at least to Aristotle, who saw it working its magic in the theatergoing experience. When faced with the surreal or the unreal, according to Aristotle and others who followed him, humans stop thinking critically and simply accept the otherworldliness to enjoy the experience.

Nowadays, we suspend disbelief when watching "The Matrix," "The Mandalorian" or a Marvel movie. We often engage in a similar exercise when rooting for our favorite sports underdog and we stop thinking critically to enjoy the fiction that our team has a chance to win the game. There seldom are any real consequences for these kinds of suspension of disbelief; the letdown you feel when the movie stinks or your team loses is not all that consequential.

That’s not the case when the suspension of disbelief crosses the thin line that separates it from delusion, as is happening with many of us with COVID-19.

The virus is certainly surreal. Invisible and silent, restive and relentless, it infects and kills. Combating it requires critical thinking — about masks, about distancing, about the size of our groups, about being indoors or out. Yet many of us have stopped thinking critically about this surrealness and simply accepted it in order to enjoy the life we’ve been leading, even as the virus spreads around us.

What are we doing? Keep reading.

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