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Pop-up sites to vaccinate 25,000 in NY

State: More than 25,000 to get vaccinations this week at pop-up sites

A mosque and a Roman Catholic church on Long Island were among 35 sites the state is setting up this week targeting groups including Blacks, Latinos and other underserved communities.

One-day pop-up sites opened Wednesday at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury and St. Rosalie’s Roman Catholic Church in Hampton Bays.

Northwell Health was partnering with the Islamic Center — one of the largest mosques on Long Island — while Stony Brook Southampton Hospital was working at the church, which ministers to a large Latino population.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement this campaign will help "address the skepticism and bring this lifesaving vaccine to those who need it most."

Officials expected to vaccinate more than 25,000 people at the sites this week, while more were to be opened in coming weeks, Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, the positivity level dropped again, Cuomo said Wednesday, with a seven-day average of 4.86%.

The number of new positives reported today: 547 in Nassau, 527 in Suffolk, 2,583 in New York City and 5,925 statewide.

The chart below shows the positivity rates in New York City and in the state during the past month.

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

State fends off $5.5B in fake jobless claims during COVID

More than $5.5 billion in unemployment aid payments have been kept out of the hands of fraudsters during the pandemic, according to the state Labor Department.

The agency, which handles the processing and evaluation of jobless claims across the state, said it has identified more than 425,000 fraudulent jobless claims since March and that "hundreds of thousands of fraud cases" have been referred to federal prosecutors.

The state is working with law enforcement at all levels to hold criminals to account, the department said. In total, the state has paid out more than $65 billion to more than 4 million state residents over the past 11 months.

When parents become driving instructors on LI

When the pandemic hit, on-the-road driving lessons through driver’s education classes paused.

For some teens, they say it's better to be taught by a parent. For others, it was a lot of stress and fighting.

The classroom portion is still offered virtually, but the K-turns, parallel parking and merging onto the highway have sometimes been taken over by mom or dad. Read the stories of what it's been like for some Long Islanders.

Plus: Newsday asked readers to share where they learned to drive on Long Island — here are the most common places.

And, Long Islanders look back on their own learning-to-drive experiences, including comedian Jim Breuer.

How this nonprofit is lifting pandemic spirits

For many Long Islanders inside because of the cold and COVID-19 restrictions, spring can’t come soon enough. And for the patients and staff at the Northport VA Medical Center, the season of promise came early this year.

It arrived on a sturdy, 8-by-4-foot Masonite panel, courtesy of a "QuaranTEAM" of artists who paint colorful, custom-designed murals for the Huntington-based organization Splashes of Hope. The halcyon image of rolling green pastures dotted with budding cherry blossom trees, bunnies and butterflies joins the dozens of "Splashes" that have transformed nondescript, fluorescent-lit walls throughout the Suffolk County health-care campus.

"During the pandemic, people are starting to understand the mental torment of isolation," said Heather Buggée, 51, artist and founder of the international nonprofit focused on brightening medical and social services facilities. Keep reading.

More to know

The Long Island Ducks minor league baseball team will begin its 2021 season on May 28, the league announced Tuesday, coming back after having canceled its 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns.

A quarter of available Paycheck Protection Program loans were made in the first three weeks after the COVID-relief program reopened last month, federal data shows.

The pandemic has produced a record number of workplace-related class-action rulings, according to a new report from a national law firm.

Britain’s health chief said a new study suggesting a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provides a high level of protection for 12 weeks supports the government’s strategy of delaying the second shot.

News for you

The Wyandanch library's mobile option. The Wyandanch Public Library — the only public library on Long Island not to reopen since the pandemic began — is hoping to soon return limited services to the community through a mobile library RV. It's looking to use the Suffolk Cooperative Library System’s RV once or twice a week.

Spots to snowmobile in the state. Some socially distant outdoor activities aren't as comfortable now given the colder temperatures. But going snowmobiling is one way to distance and stay pandemic-cautious while keeping outside and seeking a thrill. Check out some spots in New York.

How COVID 'catapulted' this auction house into future. Maltz Auctions, a high-end Central Islip company that sells real estate, jewelry, cars, boats and business assets, had in-person auctions for 40 years. That changed in 2020 when it all went online — and they've seen success. The CEO spoke to Newsday about how online-only auctions grew the business.

Winter break at Hempstead's drive-in. The Town of Hempstead will present its free drive-in "Winter Break" film series from Feb. 12 through Feb. 21 at Town Park in Point Lookout. It'll be open to Town of Hempstead residents only, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Plus: The Golden Globe nominations were announced Wednesday, featuring movies that barely played in theaters because of the pandemic. Check them out.

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A direct shot at COVID-19. A Newsday editorial writes: Even as millions of New Yorkers clamor for a COVID-19 vaccine, there are many others on Long Island who have easy access to the shot but refuse to take it.

Among them, surprisingly, are some of the region’s health care workers and nursing home staff.

There’s a lot we still need to know about who is refusing to take the vaccine and why. Are health care workers and long-term care staffers hesitant due to their own allergies, or underlying conditions, or fears? Do they have historical reasons to be concerned, like the medical experiments of the past? Are they concerned about a pregnancy? Or, more worrisome, do they disbelieve the science or safety of the vaccines more broadly?

According to previously released New York State data, 46% of the staff at Long Island’s skilled nursing facilities have refused the vaccine, the highest percentage in the state. That’s particularly concerning considering the fact that so far only 74% of long-term care residents have been vaccinated. Our most vulnerable residents need the people taking care of them to be protected, so they in turn can stay safe. Keep reading.