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More eligible for vaccine, but it's a local decision

Cuomo: Local governments can make new groups eligible

With allowing local governments to include taxi drivers, restaurant workers and residents in facilities for people with developmental disabilities on the list of who would qualify for the vaccine, the state anticipates an increased supply from the federal government, the governor said.

"Some localities have already done a large percentage" of their police, teachers and firefighters, previously included among those who qualify for the shots as essential workers, and they can move on to other key segments of the population, Cuomo said. It will be up to the local governments "if they think it makes sense," he added.

Adding more people to the list is possible because the federal government is expected to augment its supply to the state, which will see a recent increase in its direct allocation go from about 16% to about 20%. The state will then supply those extra shots to local governments.

The federal government will also distribute an additional 10% of the state's allocation — amounting to about 30,000 shots — directly to pharmacies.

Meanwhile, the state’s vaccination sites at Jones Beach, Stony Brook and other locations are slated to reopen on Wednesday, following the previous days' closures from the storm, Cuomo said earlier.

The number of new positives reported today: 732 in Nassau, 778 in Suffolk, 4,192 in New York City and 8,215 statewide.

The graph below shows the number of new cases confirmed on Long Island during the past month.

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

LI firefighter first active-duty FDNY member to die of virus

An FDNY firefighter from Massapequa with more than 30 years on the job has died of COVID-19, the department’s first active member to succumb to the deadly virus, officials said Sunday.

Joseph Ferrugia, 61, was the 13th member of the department to die of the virus, FDNY officials said. He died early Sunday at Plainview Hospital after being hospitalized on Jan. 20, his sister said.

The senior firefighter was twice cited for bravery and responded to Ground Zero after 9/11.

"This horrific illness has taken far too many lives, and now it has killed a man who bravely served New Yorkers for three decades," Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. "He ran toward danger his entire career, searching for those trapped by flames and doing all he could to save them."

Experts fear vaccine skeptics are energizing anti-vax movement

Doubt is a major concern as public health officials aim to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming months, and health experts worry hesitancy by some to take the vaccine could be energizing a broader anti-vaccine movement.

The movement is getting renewed attention as it taps into people's concerns and forms alliances with others opposed to the vaccine, such as anti-government groups, libertarians and alternative health advocates, said Richard Carpiano, a professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California Riverside.

In doing so, the movement has amplified misinformation about the vaccine, which could undermine efforts to end the virus, he said.

"COVID-19 gave them fuel for that fire," Carpiano said. "It emboldened them as they focus on health freedom and government overreach."

12-year-old finds ways to save, buys diapers for LI church

Gavin Connell, 12, recently got hooked on the television show "Extreme Couponing" — and then found a way to use it to help others.

Gavin's mother, Ilene Davidson, is co-director of the Mariposa Family Assistance Program at Fountainhead Congregation church in East Northport. The ministry started collecting diapers, formula, wipes and other baby supplies for those in need during the pandemic.

Using his couponing knowledge, Gavin combed through coupons, memorized deals, cut them out and stored them in a green binder. Then, he and his mom would go to CVS and purchase diapers and pull-ups for the ministry, along with formula and wipes, using the coupons.

"They needed them, and they were expensive," Gavin said. "So I figured I could use my coupons to cheapen the diapers up."

More to know

Tuesday night’s Islanders’ game against the Sabres at Nassau Coliseum has been postponed, the team announced, because the Sabres were delayed by the storm and didn't have time to complete the NHL’s COVID protocol.

President Biden told Republican senators during a two-hour meeting Monday he's unwilling to settle on an insufficient virus aid package, after they pitched their slimmed down $618 billion proposal.

High school sports news:

  • The Great Neck School District reversed its decision to cancel all high-risk winter sports and will play boys and girls basketball this season.
  • The Manhasset School District announced that student-athletes participating in high-risk winter sports — wrestling, boys and girls basketball and competitive cheerleading — will be required to have weekly COVID-19 tests and do remote learning.
  • Uniondale’s Board of Education gave approval for the high school to play boys and girls basketball and wrestling at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

News for you

You might opt for a Valentine's Day meal to-go. Crowds at restaurants on Feb. 14 will be a little lighter this year, and some diners are opting for curbside pickup to enjoy a special meal. Here are some local restaurants offering takeout or dine-in specials for the day. If you're planning to dine in (with social distancing protocols) make a reservation, because tables will be limited.

How this top restaurant group is navigating COVID-19. At its pre-pandemic peak, the Bohlsen Restaurant Group was running eight properties on Long Island. Now, only Tellers in Islip, H2O in Smithtown and Prime in Huntington are open, as is The Harbor Club, an event space just north of Prime. Read more.

A virtual performance from Governor’s Comedy Club. Comedian Andrew Dice Clay will spend Valentine’s Day performing on stage at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown — to an empty room. He'll give stand-up over Zoom through a panoramic design of three 10-foot screens where he can view the audience in their homes.

'The Mermaid Project' helps local hospitality workers. Jerry & the Mermaid in Riverhead is raising money to feed struggling hospitality workers hit hard by the pandemic. The restaurant teamed up with nonprofit Branches Long Island for "The Mermaid Project," a fundraiser aiming to provide fresh meals to those struggling.

Plus: Doctors will answer your questions during Newsday Live's next virtual discussion tomorrow on COVID-19 and recovery. Submit your questions and register for the free event here.

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

Commentary

Don't get lost in the numbers. Michael Dobie writes in his latest Newsday Opinion column: Sometimes we get lost in the numbers.

The tally of the dead. The confirmed case count. The percentage testing positive. The doses of vaccine delivered. The number of shots given. The amount of money spent. The amount of money lost. The percent capacity allowed in a place of business. The rate of unemployment. The number of children learning from home. The number of empty ICU beds.

Most of the numbers are grim. Many are getting grimmer. A constellation of numbers defining a crisis.

Then you hear the voices. And you remember that the numbers are just an outline, an etch-a-sketch of a pandemic whose flesh-and-blood costs are really the story.

The voices came to Newsday's editorial board this past week in a deluge. Nearly 600, another number, by phone and email, Long Island's senior citizens responding to a request to share their experiences in trying to get a vaccine for the coronavirus. Keep reading.

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