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Would you take a 12-hour road trip to get the COVID shot?

LIers traveling 700 miles for COVID-19 vaccines

Plattsburgh, a city of approximately 20,000 people about 70 miles south of the Canadian border, is an unlikely locale to attract a steady stream of Long Islanders in the dead of winter, when the average high temperature there hovers around 26 degrees.

The city is about a six-hour drive from the island, while its single-runway airport largely attracts visitors from Montreal.

But "Lake City," as the locals call it because it sits on Lake Champlain, has something Nassau and Suffolk residents can only dream of: an available supply of the COVID-19 vaccine.

And with doses of the vaccine hard to get downstate, desperate Long Islanders are reluctantly packing their bags, filling up the tank and heading far north to secure an elusive appointment for inoculation.

"I just want to be safe as soon as possible," said Bridget Berbrick, 65, a retired public school teacher from Melville who has a March 20 appointment in Plattsburgh, where her sister lives. "It’s obvious there’s just not enough vaccine."

The 700-mile round-trip drive, which would need to be taken twice because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses each, is an indicator of how problematic the state’s vaccine allocation program has become — and the lengths to which some will go to get their shot. Continue reading.

Cuomo: Indoor dining can resume in NYC on Valentine's Day

Indoor dining will once again be allowed in New York City, starting on Valentine's Day, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday.

Restaurants in the city will be able to operate at 25% capacity, while those outside of it can operate at 50% capacity, with a 10-person per table maximum, Cuomo said.

Restaurants must still close by 10 p.m. and social distancing and masks are required except when eating.

Cuomo also said that starting March 15, wedding receptions can be held at up to 50% of a venue's capacity, with a maximum of 150 people allowed. All attendees must be tested before the event, he said.

The statewide positivity rate was 4.65% on Thursday, the lowest level since Dec. 11, Cuomo said. The latest modeling projects that new infections will continue to decline in the state, according to a slide shown at the briefing.

The number of new positives reported today: 1,234 in Nassau, 1,241 in Suffolk, 5,780 in New York City and 12,579 statewide.

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

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

Nursing home fallout for Cuomo: Brutal and bipartisan

A report about the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes represents the most serious political fallout for the New York governor since the pandemic began.

This time, unlike other brushfires during Gov. Cuomo’s 10-plus years in office, the condemnations were brutal, angry and bipartisan. And it’s a controversy that likely won’t die down in a day or two but could hover over the State Capitol for some time because of pending legislative hearings.

"Damning," "unconscionable," "unacceptable" and "gravely worrisome" were just some of the words fellow Democrats used to describe a report by Attorney General Letitia James, which found Cuomo’s Health Department may have underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths by as much as 50%.

The death count wasn’t all. The report also said a decision to grant blanket immunity to health care facilities early on in the pandemic might have led some to make "financially motivated" decisions rather than safety-based. Also, it said a Cuomo directive to nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients "may have put residents at increased risk of harm."

What it's like supporting a family as an Uber Eats driver

At about 9:30 one bitterly cold November morning, Brad Herrschaft — in the car, as usual — received a text from his wife, Ria, who couldn’t find one of their 2-year-old son's dinosaur slippers. "It’s … in … the … dryer," he read aloud, texting her back from a Wendy’s parking lot. "Next, she’ll be asking me, ‘How’d he get it wet?’ "

Sure enough.

"He … jumped in … the tub … with … his slippers on."

Herrschaft quickly slipped his phone back into the cup holder, reopened the Uber Eats app and got back to work.

Like lots of Long Islanders, he might still be consumed by his sudden furloughing in March, or Ria’s sudden dismissal from her court reporting job the same month. But Herrschaft seems capable of going in just one direction — forward — a very good trait to possess during a pandemic, as it turns out.

And anyway, there was no time for nostalgia. Some guy named Zack in Centereach was waiting for a Breakfast Baconator and Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant, and it was Herrschaft’s mission to deliver the goods. Continue reading.

More to know

Johnson & Johnson’s long-awaited vaccine appears to protect against COVID-19 with just one shot, though not as strong as some two-shot rivals, and there was also some geographic variation.

A new variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa emerged Thursday in the United States for the first time amid concern that this version spreads more easily and that vaccines could be less effective against it.

The Great Neck School District announced it will not participate in the high-risk high school sports of wrestling, competitive cheerleading and boys and girls basketball in the winter season.

Democrats in Congress and the White House have rejected a Republican pitch to split President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into smaller chunks, with lawmakers appearing primed to muscle forward without GOP help.

Sonny Fox, the one-time host of "Wonderama" and among the best-known figures in the history of New York television, has died after a short illness related to COVID-induced pneumonia, his daughter confirmed.

News for you

Fancy face masks. When surgical face masks became an unexpected part of everyday life, it was almost a given that the Woodbury Mens Shop would quickly come up with a standout luxury alternative.

Credit cards suited for the times. With the pandemic upending spending patterns, an audit of the benefits and costs of your credit cards may be needed. Bonus points on travel, for example, became less valuable than higher rewards on groceries and streaming services. Here are seven things to consider.

Ready for snow. With snow likely for Monday — the odds are 70% — and your kids desperate for fun things to do these days, you may want to pick up one of these nine toys to help form the perfect snowballs, sculpt an igloo or race down your local sledding hills as you cross off items from our winter bucket list.

Plus: If you'd prefer to stay out of the frigid temperatures, you can cozy up inside while watching one of these Turner Classic Movies, including "the worst movie ever made."

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Commentary

School reopenings are Biden's first big test. Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP and former New York City mayor, writes in a Bloomberg Opinion column: America’s schoolchildren and teachers have just gotten some very good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After reviewing data from multiple studies in the U.S. and abroad, the agency has concluded that in-person schooling poses very little risk of coronavirus transmission as long as basic safety precautions are followed. That should send a clear message to governors, mayors and teachers union leaders: It’s time to open the schools.

In addition to the terrible toll COVID-19 has taken on the nation’s health, it’s been a calamity for American education. Only about 15% of school districts offered full-time in-person classes last fall. For students and parents elsewhere, the pandemic has meant navigating novel and often dubious remote-learning software. Any parent of a young child can attest that virtual instruction typically falls somewhere between subpar and hopeless.

The results have been alarming but not surprising. Early research suggests sharply reduced learning gains; widening racial disparities in achievement; and an eruption of anxiety, loneliness, depression and other mental health afflictions among students isolated from their peers and stuck at home. Some districts have seen a rash of suicides. Education analysts warn that the long-term consequences — for disadvantaged kids, for racial equity, even for America’s global competitiveness — could be disastrous. Read more.

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