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Nursing home deaths undercounted

NY nursing home deaths undercounted by as much as 50%, AG says

Attorney General Letitia James’ report on nursing homes also found that staff shortages exacerbated by workers contracting the virus hurt the care of residents. And she said some of the homes’ "lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm."

It also faulted the homes for low staffing even before the virus hit, and said many homes had too little personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns to protect staff and residents.

The report examined a sample of 62 nursing homes and how they reported deaths. The attorney general's investigation reported 1,914 deaths of residents from COVID-19, while the state Department of Health reported 1,229 deaths.

"Some facilities reported the location of the person at the time of death inconsistently," the report said, which made it difficult to determine whether the person who died was considered a hospital patient or a nursing home patient. "A significantly high number of resident COVID-19 deaths can be identified than is reflected in deaths publicized by" the state Department of Health.

"COVID-19 resident deaths associated with nursing homes in New York state appears to be undercounted by DOH by approximately 50%" the report stated.

There was no immediate comment from Cuomo, the Department of Health or nursing home spokesmen.

The number of new positives reported today: 1,251 in Nassau, 1,301 in Suffolk, 6,102 in New York City and 13,398 statewide.

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The chart below shows the cumulative number of people who have suffered coronavirus-related deaths in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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

Pace of new cases in NY slows, state figures show

The number of new COVID-19 cases across the state continued to increase, but at a much slower pace, officials said Thursday.

Although the seven-day positivity rate on Long Island has dropped in recent days, it remains the highest in the state at 6.7%, figures show.

"New York State is once again making our way down the mountain after experiencing a holiday surge," Cuomo said in a statement. "Our infection and hospitalization rates are steadily declining thanks to the actions of New Yorkers, but there is still more work to be done."

Cuomo said although the state was expecting more doses of the vaccine from the federal government, it was vital that New Yorkers continue to wear face coverings, follow social distancing protocols and avoid gatherings to prevent spikes.

Crowdfunding helps some LI businesses hang on

Some Long Island business owners are turning to crowdfunding to stay afloat. Using sites such as GoFundMe, they rely on donations from friends, relatives, loyal customers and sometimes complete strangers to pay rent, keep employees on the payroll or just to keep their doors open.

Anthony "Beau" Carino, owner of Beau's Bar, a 16-year-old rock-n-roll-themed bar in Greenlawn that was forced to close in March, said he's "forever indebted" to the nearly 200 donors who raised almost $20,000 to help save his bar.

"I was very hesitant about it because I'm really not the type of person who's comfortable asking or taking," Carino said. His GoFundMe campaign was started in July by friend and bar regular Janine Petrowski. The donations helped him pay utility bills and get up-to-date on the bar's rent.

"But the truth is, I really don't know what I would've done otherwise," he said. "The money in the GoFundMe made a world of difference for us."

Panel discusses best ways to test students in pandemic

While state education officials ask for a federal waiver exempting standardized testing for some grades a second year, educators say exams remain an important barometer of learning — especially during the pandemic.

Long Island Regent Roger Tilles, speaking Wednesday during a Newsday Live webinar, said state officials are pursuing the cancellation for grades three through eight due to challenges faced by school districts and students during the ongoing health crisis.

But Francisco Miguel Araiza, director of research and policy with The Education Trust New York, said his organization has conducted statewide polls of parents who have said, by about 90%, that they still support standardized testing.

Read more, and watch the full webinar here.

More to know

Home prices soared to new highs on Long Island as bidding wars erupted at the end of last year, partly because of pent-up sales activity from the spring shutdown, experts said.

The Stony Brook football team is preparing for a spring season and is about a week away from opening training camp for the most untraditional season.

The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annual rate in the final three months of 2020, and shrank last year by the largest amount in 74 years.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell but remained at a historically high 847,000 last week.

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package presents a first political test of the new administration, Democratic control of Congress and of the role of Republicans in a post-Trump era.

Michael Strahan, "Good Morning America" co-anchor, tested positive for COVID-19 but is doing well, his colleagues on the ABC morning show say.

The Cannes Film Festival, canceled altogether last year by the pandemic, is postponing this year's edition from May to July in hopes of having an in-person festival.

News for you

Planning a pandemic Valentine's Day. You can get treats delivered or pick them up curbside to celebrate the day. Restaurants and other local spots are offering things like coffee and doughnut deliveries, heart-shaped pizza and hot chocolate "bombs." Find out what to order and where.

Or, consider a romantic getaway (locally). We've got some spots on Long Island, in New York City and upstate New York that could make for the perfect socially distant, weekend getaway. Reminder: You'll want to check the latest pandemic guidelines before traveling.

What to expect when visiting wineries. Some wineries on Long Island are open for business this winter, but the rules regarding seating, capacity and consumption might differ from seasons in the past because of the pandemic. Here’s a guide that takes you through what you might see.

Plus: Starting to plan your weekend? Check our updated list of socially distant and virtual events coming up.

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

Commentary

New York is right to seek testing waiver for students. A Newsday editorial writes: Imagine public school students on Long Island taking standardized tests this year.

Some of them would fill out answers in familiar classrooms where they’ve been studying every day since fall. Others would puzzle out the answers at school desks they’ve had access to for just a couple of days a week, sporadically.

And yet another group, whose schools have no in-person learning, or whose parents have not felt comfortable sending them with COVID-19 rampant, would likely take their exams at home.

Some of those homebound children would face tests after a fine breakfast, in a cozy and well-lit room, in a calm environment. Others, though, would work on exams with hiccuping computers, at uncomfortable tables with other children or adults making noise nearby. And many children, no matter how comfortable their surroundings, would be unable to give the test their full focus.

They, too, are enduring the heartache and fear this pandemic has brought.

This week, the state Education Department asked for a waiver from the federal requirement that states administer the 2021 tests, citing the pandemic. That waiver ought to be granted to New York’s students, as it was last year. Read more.

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