TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
NewsHealthCoronavirus

LI has NY's highest 7-day positivity rate

Cuomo: Long Island's infection rates 'concerning'

Long Island recorded a 7.84% seven-day positivity average, which stands more than 2 percentage points higher than New York City's rate of 5.73%, according to the governor.

"That’s problematic and that’s new, by the way," Cuomo said at a news briefing on Monday.

He added that the percentage of Long Island's population hospitalized with COVID-19 matches the Mohawk Valley and Finger Lakes for the highest rate in the state at 0.06%.

"Long Island has taken a relative jump, which is concerning and we’re watching that, because Long Island jumped up, not in the right direction," he said.

The overall rate of increase in virus hospitalizations in New York is slowing and at its lowest level since October, the governor said, and the statewide daily positivity rate is slowing, hitting 6.54% on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the governor offered some good news on the vaccine front, highlighting what he said was an accelerating pace of first-dose administration at sites across the state, with more than one million doses distributed in the state so far.

About 77% of allocated doses have been administered on Long Island, Cuomo said.

The number of new positives reported today: 1,110 in Nassau, 1,362 in Suffolk, 5,228 in New York City and 12,185 statewide.

The chart below shows the positivity rate reported across Long Island each day during the past few weeks.

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

Answering your questions: Local experts answered the leftover vaccine questions that Long Islanders had for Dr. Fauci. Get caught up.

New state-run vaccination site, pop-up sites open on LI

A mass vaccination site opened at Stony Brook University on Monday, in addition to pop-up sites in Uniondale and Bellport, giving Long Islanders the first of the two doses needed to protect against the virus.

Stony Brook became the second mass state-run vaccination site to open on Long Island, following the one at Jones Beach that opened last week. Cuomo said Monday that five mass sites currently are running in the state, with eight more expected to open this week.

Many of those getting vaccinated Monday at Stony Brook were among the 20,000 people who made appointments using an unauthorized sign-up link that was improperly circulated last week and who found out they were later canceled.

The state Inspector General's Office is investigating to determine whether someone leaked the link before it went live or if the site was hacked, officials said.

Meanwhile, a pharmacy owner in Suffolk County who was frustrated last week with the vaccination rollout plan said Monday that he has rejoined the inoculation campaign after the state adjusted its program.

Long Islanders struggling to secure vaccine appointments

Getting the vaccine is a life-or-death proposition to Kelly Groom. The 51-year-old Wantagh mother of two has metastatic breast cancer and has just two to five years to live — a life span she believes will be shortened if she contracts the virus because of her body's inability to fight off infection.

But she's among the tens of thousands of Long Islanders who have been unable — or in her case, prevented by state guidelines — to sign up and grab a vaccine appointment.

"I do not begrudge anyone else getting the vaccine," Groom said Friday. "But there's something terribly wrong when a healthy 65-year-old can get it and someone who has cancer can't."

The state's vaccine rollout faced harsh criticism this past week after eligibility was expanded. Immunocompromised individuals like Groom are expected to be in the next batch of eligible people as the state works with the CDC to reach a clear definition of who would qualify.

More time online for students, more vulnerable to cyberbullying

When Beatriz Morfogen found out she tested positive for COVID-19, she was scared, worried and sad — because she didn't know how the virus would affect her, and because friends she once trusted began bullying her.

"I was scared I was going to get really sick, and I felt like I let everybody down. Like everyone was going to hate me afterward," said Beatriz, 14, an eighth-grader in the Southampton school district who contracted the virus in November. Peers took to social media apps to call her out, accuse her of being "reckless" and blame her for them having to quarantine, she said.

Some bullying experts said the increased time students are spending online for hybrid and remote learning has opened the door for more cyberbullying, which often goes undetected.

Thread of altruism runs through pandemic mask-makers

After making and giving away 1,500 masks, including 600 to Mount Sinai South Nassau, Bonnie Sollog stopped keeping count on a spreadsheet. Yet, the Lynbrook resident has continued churning out masks — even though she returned to her office six months ago at the Nassau County Department of Health.

While largely spending her weekends at home to avoid catching the virus, Sollog, a health department supervisor, 65, fabricates upbeat protective wear with holiday themes and such characters as Winnie the Pooh to give to her colleagues to boost their morale and replace their loose and worn face coverings. She also provides masks to family, friends and others.

"It’s something that I can do," Sollog said. "I really feel so grateful to the people willing to risk their own lives to provide services to us."

Throughout Long Island, countless residents share Sollog’s sentiments and mirror her actions in using their sewing skills to voluntarily produce masks for charity. In addition, seniors are joining others in responding to calls for free masks from such grassroots networks like Stitched Together Long Island and Long Island Quilts for Kids.

More to know

Coronavirus deaths are rising in nearly two-thirds of American states as a winter surge pushes the overall toll toward 400,000. The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million on Friday.

The administration of President-elect Joe Biden is bracing for a bleak first few months in office, with the U.S. likely to see the death toll surge through March, the incoming White House chief of staff said Sunday.

A group of 16 pool halls — most of which are in Manhattan — that sued the state for being forced to close in March can reopen immediately, according to a preliminary injunction granted Friday.

Sean Dean of Freeport, a security worker for the Mets, died from COVID-19 complications on Saturday. He was 52.

The SBA — which began approving new PPP loans for minority- and woman-owned businesses last week — plans to open the process to all lenders starting Tuesday.

News for you

Dressing like your dogs. The pandemic has brought many more time with their dogs — more time at home to play, take walks and maybe get extra treats. That all might have led to this trend: pet owners dressing up their dogs to match them. Check it out.

Port Washington's SOUPer Bowl goes virtual. For 13 years, SOUPer Bowl meant a huge room filled with hundreds of people who paid a fee to go table-to-table, sampling more than a dozen soups prepared by local restaurants. This year is different, and it's distanced.

Home accessories for all things stay-at-home. Susan Calabria Design Ltd., a shop in Cold Spring Harbor, may be ideal for those willing to think outside the box when it comes to re-imagining a space — especially today when home, office and school are all in one.

Plus, a roundup of resources: Questions about testing, safety or vaccines? Newsday has a list of FAQs compiled here.

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

Experts: Virus precautions working at LI schools

Long Island’s high virus numbers are buffeting schools, but measures put in place to keep students safe and learning are working, experts said Thursday at a Newsday webinar.

Still, a return to normalcy — or at least to full-time, in-person schooling — is not likely until a significant portion of the population is vaccinated, said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. Several vaccines are being rolled out now for adults, and several more designed for children under 12 will go into clinical testing soon, she said. Widespread vaccination is "going to pivot us back to real normal," with dramatic changes by 2022, she said.

That goes too for the more contagious variations of the virus that have appeared in recent months, she said. "The more it spreads, the more it multiplies, the more it mutates," she said. "By preventing COVID infections, either by masking or by vaccination, we will close the spigot for getting those variants and we will have less to worry about." Keep reading.

Health