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Essential workers, NYers over 75 eligible for vaccines next week

NY to vaccinate next group, but effort will extend until April

New York State will expand the population of those who can receive the COVID-19 vaccines to people over 75 years old and essential workers, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

The new phase will include police, firefighters, teachers, public safety and public transit workers, as well as those meeting the age requirement. Health care workers will continue to be vaccinated.

But the effort, starting next week, will be long and sustained and will be limited by the supply of vaccines from the federal government. The expanded vaccination program will extend for up to 14 weeks until all senior citizens prioritized in the next phase can get the shots.

New Yorkers in the new groups will be able to start making reservations on Monday, but it could be many weeks — and until April 16 — before they are vaccinated, and they need to continue to observe caution to prevent exposure to the virus through that period.

"We can only distribute what we receive and 14 weeks is a long time," Cuomo said.

The map below shows the concentration of new cases in Long Island communities.

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

LI man who helped build family business dies of COVID-19

Joe Winters, who helped build his family’s West Babylon-based Winters Bros. Waste Systems into Long Island’s largest garbage carting business, has died of COVID-19.

Winters, of Nissequogue, died Tuesday at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 54.

His death was confirmed by a company vice president.

The five Winters brothers — Andrew, Jimmy, Joe, Michael and Sean — sold their business for $263 million to a Canadian conglomerate in 2007, then bought back its Long Island operations for an undisclosed sum in 2015. The company now hauls 1 million tons of garbage and recyclables annually.

"He had a fully thought-out business plan and the discipline of economics in the broader marketplace," said Steve Changaris, regional vice president of National Waste & Recycling Association, a trade group. "He had a goal and he was driven."

For Joe Winters, planning extended beyond his family’s business. In 1998, after a son, Sean, was diagnosed with autism, he founded the nonprofit, Winters Center for Autism.

The U.S. has topped 4,000 daily deaths from the coronavirus for the first time, breaking a record set just one day earlier.

Take COVID-19 vaccine when available, doctors say

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and should be taken by Long Islanders as soon as they are made available to them, two leading health care officials said Thursday.

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chair of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital, answered questions from Newsday readers during an online discussion about the vaccine and its efficacy.

Glatt said more than 5 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered nationwide — including more than 934,000 in New York — and less than two dozen people have had allergic reactions, including four who were hospitalized but recovered.

He added that vaccinations are the only way for the nation to reach herd immunity and to return to a sense of normalcy.

"If we ever want to get rid of masks and social distancing we are going to need a huge percentage of the country vaccinated — maybe 90%," Glatt said. "As soon as you are eligible to get the vaccine please … sign up and get it."

LIers seize COVID slowdown to launch new businesses

The number of businesses launched on Long Island hit a five-year high during COVID-19, state data show.

In Nassau and Suffolk, 20,157 firms submitted business formation forms to the state from March to October — the most recorded during the same stretch of the past five years, according to New York's Department of State data.

Entrepreneurship tends to rise during downturns, when layoffs, furloughs and dim job prospects push people to start businesses, said Scott Newbert, the Lawrence N. Field Chair in Entrepreneurship at Baruch College.

"Nine months is a long time to wait around for a job," Newbert said of those who became unemployed early in the pandemic. "My guess is that what you're seeing is, at least in part, related to these necessity-based entrepreneurs that just ran out of options. They have to do what they can to make ends meet."

At the same time, Long Islanders who still have steady income may have been pulled into entrepreneurship by the allure of new opportunities, such as the need for face masks and webcams, he said.

The pandemic prompted local entrepreneurs to reflect on their priorities — and provided many with time to act on them. A Middle Island mom found time to launch an e-commerce company when her social work transitioned from field visits to phone calls. A Lynbrook woman fixed up an aquatic center and started a swim school with help from her husband while he was unemployed. And a Melville man forged ahead with plans for a food truck. Read their stories.

More to know

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea has tested positive for the coronavirus and was running the department from home, a police spokesman said Friday.

President-elect Joe Biden will release most available COVID-19 vaccine doses to speed delivery to more people, a reversal of the Trump administration's approach, his office said Friday.

U.S. employers shed jobs last month for the first time since April, cutting 140,000 positions, clear evidence that the economy is faltering as the viral pandemic tightens its grip on consumers and businesses.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two easier-to-spread variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa, new research suggests.

Michael Bublé is hoping third time’s a charm as his Nassau Coliseum concert gets postponed yet again, moving from March to August.

News for you

Winter farmers markets. Now that food shopping has become one of our only means of entertainment, local farmers markets are all the more precious. Here are six you can still shop in the winter.

Entertainment in 2021. Drive-ins featuring movies from the '80s and livestreamed concerts? That's so last year (we can only hope). A crop of highly anticipated theatrical releases, arena concerts and Broadway shows loom on the horizon, with dates subject to change, but if you want to start penciling them into your calendar, here's our list of highlights.

Deadline for loans. If you're a small business owner, you have until March 31 to secure a forgivable loan under the latest version of the Paycheck Protection Program, officials said.

No weekend plans? If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend on Long Island, check out these 15 winter adventures on our bucket list.

Plus: Find more coronavirus-related resources, including our FAQs on the vaccine rollout, the latest stimulus bill and more, right here.

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Commentary

Back from the holidays, how's school going now? As a new semester kicks off, find out what schools and parents have learned and what they’re doing to keep students and teachers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsday Columnist and Editorial Writer Lane Filler moderated a virtual discussion this morning with a panel of experts that included Amina Kennedy, Secondary English Teacher at Robert Frost Middle School in Deer Park; Dennis O'Hara, Superintendent of Hauppauge Public Schools; and Dr. Tom Rogers, Superintendent of Schools for the Syosset Central School District.

If you missed the webinar, watch the replay.

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