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Thousands of vaccine appointments canceled

NY cancels vaccine appointments at Stony Brook

Addressing the canceled vaccine appointments, Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa said in a news conference that late Thursday "we became aware of unpublished links set to go live [Friday] for certain sites … the hypothesis is that it was hacked or there was someone who leaked the link."

While "we understand the frustration if someone got the link," in the interest of fairness, the state voided the appointments, she said. The state Inspector General’s Office is investigating how and why the link was released.

Long Islanders affected by the incident described the experience as exasperating, mystifying or bitterly disappointing in interviews. What had seemed like a stroke of good luck — a sign-up link with appointments available just days away, in some cases — soured as emails from the state's Department of Health began to roll in, stating:"Your appointment and confirmation have been voided."

"I’m angry, I’m exasperated, I feel so let down and now I have to start from scratch, and I don’t even know where to go back to," said Sheryl Hanson, 74, a retired banker from Nesconset.

New York State had administered 74% of about 844,000 vaccines it has received so far, state officials said Friday, though a larger amount of 1.8 million total vaccines have been allocated and will be eventually delivered.

The federal government and the state were reporting different figures on how many vaccines have been delivered and how many nended up in people's arms, but Gareth Rhodes, a Cuomo aide, said there was "no discrepancy" as he explained that the full amount of vaccines assigned so far to New York "shows up as allocated" in the CDC updates "even though much of that hasn't been delivered yet."

The number of new positives reported today: 1,858 in Nassau, 2,181 in Suffolk, 7,725 in New York City and 19,942 statewide.

The chart below shows the daily totals of new cases on Long Island.

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

Experts answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions

In advance of Newsday's recent webinar with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, our readers submitted more than 2,000 questions about the safety, efficacy and rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Fauci was able to answer some of their questions during the 30-minute live discussion, but for answers to many of the remaining questions, we turned to our local experts. Together, they answered nearly 50 questions posed by Long Islanders, regarding everything from whether you should get the vaccine if you have risk factors and how long its protection may last, to specific concerns about going to the gym or attending an out-of-state wedding this summer.

See how our panel of doctors responded to these and other frequently asked reader questions.

College students return next week with intensive COVID-19 testing

College students can anticipate a spring semester still shadowed by the pandemic, with canceled spring breaks, intensified testing for COVID-19, and for some, delays on getting back onto campus.

Students will start to return to dorm residences and then classrooms as early as next week, with instruction to continue with the mix of remote, hybrid and in-person formats put in place last fall. And they will face continued admonishments to follow rules on mask-wearing, hand-washing, surveillance testing, health screens and other safe practices as the pace and availability of vaccinations gathers momentum.

"The safety protocols have been put in place and must be adhered to at all times, both indoors and outside, of anyone on campus," said Eugene Palma, Adelphi University’s chief administrative officer and associate vice president. He added the university, in Garden City, would "look forward to getting the Adelphi community vaccinated as soon as New York State permits."

While rates of COVID-19 remained relatively low last fall on many campuses, the community transmission rate on Long Island is now higher than it has been since early May, after the initial heights of the pandemic’s outbreak in New York. In March, most colleges closed campuses and sent students home to finish the spring semester with remote instruction.

LI teen gets protective gear to front-line workers

Soon after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic, Sabrina Guo saw a call from Nassau Legis. Joshua Lafazan on social media to write thank-you letters to health workers.

The then-14-year-old wrote one. But it didn’t feel enough.

Days later, the teenager started a nonprofit called Long Island Laboring Against COVID-19 to raise money to purchase personal protective equipment that she saw doctors and nurses so desperately needed.

"Upon reading the stories of our front-line workers suffering severe [PPE] shortages, I really grasped the gravity and the severity of this whole situation with COVID," said the Syosset High School sophomore, who is now 15. "It just really hit me."

Since March, the campaign has raised more than $100,000 and donated 170,000 pieces of PPE to 40 Long Island facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and veteran groups, Guo said.

The organization, LILAC, has grown to have 50 members, mostly high school students on Long Island.

More to know

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, but no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans.

The Malverne Cinema & Art Center has closed its doors again and will be available for private rentals only for the foreseeable future. One of its owners says, "We’re just not making it."

Mayor Bill de Blasio says declines in money coming into city coffers since the start of the pandemic have New York City facing a projected reduction in 5,000 positions in the coming fiscal year.

President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end "a crisis of deep human suffering" by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating NBA health and safety protocols, the league announced, and he also must forfeit salary for two games he missed during his five-day quarantine period. But if he continues to test negative, he would be eligible to return to action on Saturday.

News for you

Have your cake. Newsday's food critic Scott Vogel knows a place — a tiny storefront with a walk-up window in Babylon Village — where you can get a really good piece of cake. After the pandemic forced the closing of Micheline Cummings' studio, Madame Butterfly Cakes, it also catalyzed what might be her greatest creation yet, a little thing she calls shuga pies.

Brunch for the kids. Parents looking for a socially distanced outing will find fun for the whole family at the Milleridge Inn this month. The restaurant with a neighboring shopping village is hosting a series of weekend meals that feature appearances from family-friendly characters like princesses and Paw Patrol.

Kevin James is back. If you're in need of a new show to watch as you hunker down at home, the comedian, who grew up in Stony Brook, has a new sitcom debuting on Netflix next month.

Plus: Check out our latest schedule of events and activities happening around Long Island this week, including a socially distanced lighthouse tour, ice skating at a local farm and virtual performances.

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Commentary

A welcome distraction

Matt Davies is Newsday’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist. See more of his recent work.

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