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The vaccine arrives at LI nursing homes

Pharmacy chains administer vaccine at LI nursing homes

The federal government contracted with chains, including CVS and Walgreens, to roll out vaccinations at nursing homes.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday that the vaccination program will take six weeks and includes 618 nursing homes across the state, including 77 on Long Island.

Commack-based Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, with help from Walgreens, began giving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 125 of its employees Monday, as well as to some of its 375 residents.

"This is definitely a big step in the right direction," said Stuart B. Almer, CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System, which operates the nursing home. "I had my vaccine this morning. I'm feeling fine. The vaccine was not unlike any other vaccine I've received."

Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in New Hyde Park said it, too, started vaccinating staff and residents Monday, and that Walgreens will be at the location through Wednesday. Stern Family Center for Rehabilitation, a Northwell-operated skilled nursing facility in Manhasset, will begin widely vaccinating staff and long-term residents on Tuesday with Walgreens, said Dr. David Siskind, the facility’s medical director.

The number of new positives reported today: 766 in Nassau, 978 in Suffolk, 3,338 in New York City and 9,007 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of new cases reported on Long Island in recent days.

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

Schumer: NY to get $54 billion in pandemic relief

New York is poised to receive $54 billion in coronavirus relief funding as part of the more than $900 billion package Congress is expected to pass on Monday, Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), who served as a lead negotiator on the relief bill in his role as Senate minority leader, said the money includes $9 billion for direct cash payments to eligible New Yorkers similar to cash payments that were part of the federal CARES Act, which passed in March.

Under the new measure, individuals making up to $75,000 will be eligible for a direct payment of $600, couples making less than $150,000 will be eligible for $1,200, and an additional $600 will be provided per child.

"Clearly, there is more to be done," Schumer said in an interview. "This is not a stimulus bill, this is a survival bill, and we will fight for more relief."

Health officials say LI schools remain safe

With the coronavirus surging on Long Island, there's at least one place where COVID-19 doesn't appear to be spreading: schools.

About 5,455 students ages 5 to 17 and 2,275 school staffers on Long Island have tested positive for the virus since many of the more than 400,000 schoolchildren returned to classrooms in September, state data shows. But health officials say they’ve traced fewer than 10 of those cases back to local K-12 schools, a fact they say suggests in-person instruction can be safe if the right precautions are in place.

The Suffolk County Department of Health is aware of only seven cases that originated in a school, and all of those were among a group of teachers who held a birthday party in a small faculty room.

In Nassau County, health officials said they have not identified any cases that were transmitted in schools.

"We can trace cases to parties, to social gatherings, to people playing poker, to people sitting in a house watching football together," Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said. "But we’re not tracing the spread of disease to classrooms. And I think that is so remarkable that we’ve been able to keep most of our schools open most days."

Even with vaccines, doctor says another year before normal

When vaccinations began, some called it the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

But there are many unknowns about the vaccines, including how long they provide protection and whether they stop a person from spreading the virus. Experts warn that even with vaccines, it will be many months before lifestyles return to some kind of normal — and that’s only if a large majority of the public gets vaccinated. It's a big "if," because polls show widespread hesitancy.

"To be able to say we’re really through this, I think we have at least a year ahead of us," said Dr. Leonard Krilov, an infectious disease specialist and chief of pediatrics at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola.

LI fishermen see tough days ahead with NYC restaurants lockdown

With New York City restaurants back in lockdown, Long Island fishermen once again face the loss of one of the biggest markets for their fish.

Fishermen in the spring saw most wholesale prices tumble with restaurant closures, then regain as summer opened outdoor dining and limited capacity at restaurants.

The state this month is encouraging fishermen and others in the industry to apply for $6.7 million in COVID-related aid available. The money, from federal CARES Act funding, will run out by Dec. 31, when applications must be filed.

Hank Lackner, who operates the state’s largest commercial trawler, a 93-foot dragger out of Montauk, said he’s already applied for the relief.

"It’s been really tough," said Lackner, adding his revenue is down 40% to 45% this year. "It’s only going to get tougher," with city restaurants in lockdown and talk of a bigger statewide pause in January.

More to know

British Airways and Delta have agreed to require all travelers heading to New York from the United Kingdom to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding, Cuomo said Monday, as alarm continues to build over a new variant of the virus in the U.K.

Top public health officials on Sunday said while U.S. health agencies are tracking it, there's no current indication the new contagious strain will be resistant to vaccines.

The minimum wage on Long Island will still increase by $1 to $14 per hour on Dec. 31, despite the pandemic, state officials said.

President-elect Joe Biden was expected to receive his first dose of the vaccine on live television Monday.

Long Island's congressional delegation began receiving doses of the vaccine on Friday.

More than 1 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday and Saturday, despite projections that holiday travel is expected to decline, the TSA said.

Elaine Jackson Stack — a prosecutor, defense lawyer, village deputy mayor, judge and mother of four — died on Saturday from COVID-19 complications. She was 89.

News for you

Holiday cards that capture 2020. Long Islanders are marking the end of a long year with holiday cards they hope lighten the mood. Take a look through some of the most creative, festive and unique cards Newsday readers sent to their friends and families.

Charities work to keep up with the demand. The holidays will be tough for many on Long Island, and toy giveaways aimed at helping struggling families put gifts under the tree have had a hard time keeping up. Here's what to know and where you can donate.

'A Christmas Carol' goes virtual. Charles Dickens' classic story has been adapted into a 45-minute virtual version called "A Carol for This Christmas," which premiered Dec. 12 and is available through the beginning of 2021 at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson's website.

Mobile party rentals brings fun to you. Celebratory events look different these days, but that doesn’t mean fun at home has stopped. Long Island businesses have adapted — check out these mobile party trailers and RVs, for example.

Plus, next on Newsday Live: Getting kids to care about COVID-19. Join Newsday on Tuesday for a free virtual event as health experts address parent concerns about high school kids ignoring pandemic advice and college-aged students attending crowded parties. We'll discuss the best ways to keep them safe. Save your spot.

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What went wrong with the coronavirus vaccine trials. Faye Flam, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, writes: If there's a common theme in the errors of the U.S. response to COVID-19, it's been the astounding amount of squandering. Our leaders squandered time, as well as public trust and people's economic and emotional resources. And they squandered the chance to do good science — testing drugs and vaccines in a way that serves the public interest rather than the interest of pharmaceutical companies.

There's no question that coronavirus vaccines and therapies will save many lives. But we're not doing the kinds of scientific studies needed to determine the best vaccines and therapies to maximize lives saved and minimize the weeks we endure unprecedented social and economic constraints. It's not too late to change course.

It's not too late, for example, to test the possibility some have raised that the return to normal could be advanced by months if the Pfizer vaccine is given as a single shot. Though clinical trials determined safety and efficacy for two shots, supplies are running short and there's some evidence that one shot provides some protection.

The company could test the idea by picking a group of volunteers in the early rollout to get one shot, and compare them with those getting two, says Peter Bach, a physician and director of the drug pricing lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A trial would be the only way to justify giving people a single shot. Keep reading.

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